By Cindy Aitken
Senior Manager, Community Engagement at American Public University System
American Public University System’s commencement celebration this past June was special for many reasons — but what many new graduates were buzzing about was the debut of their mascots: American Public University’s Volunteer and American Military University’s Golden Eagle.
The mascots were greeted with smiles, hugs, and high-fives during the unveiling. During commencement activities the mascots mingled, posed for photos, and helped to make the celebration of our graduates and their families even more memorable. Even through the jovial atmosphere one question was asked repeatedly–what are their names?
Through a thoughtful process over several months, the university solicited input from students, alumni, and staff to give each mascot an emblematic and personal name. It was inspiring to see the thought that went into some of the suggestions, and it was evident that many members of the APU and AMU communities were determined to identify the best name to represent their university mascots for years to come.
After counting hundreds of votes submitted at commencement, as well as through The Quad in the online classroom, and our social media outlets, we were pleased to announce the winning names.
Meet “Jake” the APU Volunteer and “Valor” the AMU Golden Eagle.
Jake is named after the celebrated Labrador retriever that helped the search and rescue efforts following the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina. Jake represents qualities attributed to APU’s Volunteer community. Volunteers are brave and always prepared to act on behalf of others. They are distinguished for their commitment, drive, maturity, intellectual curiosity, and integrity. At the heart of defining APU’s like-minded scholars and professionals, is an unyielding and pervasive spirit for public service. Intelligent, strong and versatile, Jake represents a trusted partner in public service, search-and-rescue, military missions, public safety and law enforcement. The Volunteer truly is a breed apart from all the rest.
Why Valor? In battle and beyond, valor equates to great courage in the face of adversity. AMU’s Golden Eagles are respected for their service, dedication, and sacrifice for the betterment of others; for their quiet strength and personal character; for their pride and humility; for holding themselves to the highest standards of integrity and for being driven in all that they do–in summary–for being our nation’s heroes. These attributes combined together create the symbolic DNA of the Golden Eagle.
“Jake” and “Valor” are more than just mascot names, as they so accurately represent our unique community of online learners.
We don’t have sports teams or tailgating, but our students and alumni certainly have pride in their university — and they don’t need a stadium to show it. We have a fun university t-shirt that features the slogan: “Our Athletes Don’t Play Games.” This slogan further supports the competitive and driven mindset that our students exhibit. They are dedicated to learning. They are working to make a difference in the world — in ways big and small. They serve and protect, and they support their communities and nation.