Last week 3,401 proud students walked the stage at commencement, cheered on by their loved ones and professors. Behind those cheers was a small army of volunteers making the ceremonies possible, and A&F staff were at the forefront. “The volunteers are what makes this event run smoothly, and Admin and Finance staff really step up to the plate to help,” said Events and Communications Manager Lauren Averell, who helps oversee commencement volunteers. Below, a few of the more than 50 A&F volunteers share their favorite stories from this year’s spring commencement, including a tearful reunion and the A&F group that saved the day for Lauren.
I helped transport guests with special needs, and it was an exhausting but rewarding day as every person I transported was very grateful for the help. One lady was especially sweet: she asked me my name when I helped her into the arena and then greeted me by name when I met her after the ceremony. As I was driving her back to her car, she looked down and started laughing—her shoes were on the wrong feet! After her husband helped her in the car, she said I want you to know it isn’t my fault, it’s my husband’s – he put my shoes on! They both laughed and thanked me again for helping them get back and forth. – Cathy Mattingly, Budget Office
I volunteered as a wheel chair assistant and helped transport a gentleman out of SECU Arena. As we were we were walking, the man looked through the glass doors saw his granddaughter, who had just graduated, standing outside. I asked if he wanted to go to her and he hesitated. As I waited for him to answer I looked down and noticed he was crying. I brought him over to her and witnessed a sweet celebration between the two. – Brian Fritsche, Financial Services
“I got to the arena on the day-of commencement and noticed that we were still short on volunteers in a few places. Warren Riefner saw me and immediately said, “How many people do you need and where do you need them?” With short notice, a big group of employees from Facilities showed up, offering to help with whatever I needed. Their get-it-done spirit saved the day.” – Lauren Averell, Events and Communications Manager
I had the opportunity to volunteer at commencement for the first time in my 30 years of working at Towson University. I approached a grandmother, who had her grandson with her. I asked her who was graduating and she said it was her daughter. The little boy looked up with a smile and said, “Now I can spend more time with Mommy.” – Linda O’Connor, Business Travel & Working Fund
This year, instead of driving golf carts, I was pushing wheelchairs to help with disability services. I helped many grandparents who chatted with me through the whole ride, including a few who were so appreciative they tried to give me a tip! I didn’t accept, but the sentiment was so nice. – Donna Auvil, Budget Office
I greeted guests coming into SECU arena for commencement. One woman walked in, told me her name and said she was so proud of her grandson who was graduating. I said, ‘we’re proud of all the graduates too!’ She asked if I knew her grandson and I asked his name, thinking I probably wouldn’t know it. She replied: Kurt Anderson. My eyes lit up as I said of COURSE I know the President of the SGA! That grandmother certainly has A LOT to be proud of. – Diane Gossman, A&F VP Office
Leave your favorite commencement memory in the comments below, and see some other highlights from the spring 2016 commencement:
Photos by Kanji Takeno and Lauren Castellana. Video by Ron Santana.