By April Airhart
Director, Student and Alumni Affairs at APUS
American Public University System comprised of American Public University (APU), and American Military University (AMU), held its annual 2015 Commencement ceremony and corresponding events Friday and Saturday, June 12th and 13th at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. For many students, the events signified their first face-to-face interactions with peers, alumni, faculty and staff members, who collectively provided guidance and support throughout their academic journey.
Unlike many traditional graduation ceremonies, APU and AMU’s Commencement provides a variety of events and opportunities for graduates and university community members to come together, network, and celebrate their many accomplishments.
This video gives you some insight into the variety of events that took place this year at commencement. Graduates got together for a service project, attended meet and greets with faculty and students, and held student group meetings.
Our video crew was able to record a very special graduation surprise for one family. At the 1:24 mark you’ll see the arrival of AMU student Rene Vega (B.A., Homeland Security) returned from a six-month deployment to watch his wife, AMU graduate Yesli Vega (B.A., Criminal Justice, 2015), walk in the commencement ceremony. Rene and Yesli surprised their two young children and Rene’s parents and sister at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on Friday evening.
2015’s Commencement Events included:
- The Class of 2015 Service Event, Stop Hunger Now, sponsored by the AMU and APU chapters of Golden Key and the Student Veterans of America (SVA), welcomed over 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and guests who helped package meals for underprivileged communities worldwide. The high-energy event yielded 17,000 meals, and was truly a testament to the university’s commitment to leadership and service in a global society.
- The Student Affairs Opening Session recognized outstanding student organizations and campus leaders who have gone above-and-beyond to promote student engagement, and lead events and activities that bring members of the distance community together in areas of interest.
- The Wildlife Society, led by Dr. Carol Pollio, Program Director for Environmental Science, and Valerie Titus, faculty member for the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, were awarded Chapter of the Year.
- The Association of IT Professionals (AITP), led by Novadean Watson-Stone, Program Director of Graduate Information Technology, and Tracia Craig, faculty member for the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, was awarded Outstanding New Chapter.
- Kimberly Cheiken, faculty member for the School of Health Sciences and Chapter Advisor for The Democratic Society was awarded Chapter Advisor of the Year.
- Ax Torres, AMU Alum with a Master’s in Business Administration, was awarded Outstanding Student Leader.
- Student Organization Chapter Meetings took place throughout the day with members networking, connecting and celebrating their accomplishments face-to-face–with virtual attendees participating through a webcam. The AMU and APU Chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society hosted its Honorary Member Induction Ceremony, recognizing two inductees, Mr. James Sweizer, Vice President of Military Programs at American Public University System; and Dr. Conrad Lotze, Senior Vice President and Associate Provost at American Public University System. Golden Key also awarded AMU Graduate, Beth White, a $500 scholarship for leadership and service excellence.
There were also a number of student organizations with on-site meetings:
- The AMU and APU Chapters of the Student Veterans of America (SVA)
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS)
- Saber and Scroll Historical Society
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society
- Sigma Beta Delta Management Honor Society
- The Wildlife Society (TWS)
- Homeland Security Network (HSN)
- Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society for Social Sciences
- Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity
- Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society (SIRGO)
- American Society for Transportation and Logistics
- The Alumni Welcome Rally was a lively event offering graduates, family and friends the opportunity to network and let loose! Activities included: a Wii Gaming Station, Minute-to-Win-It games, mortar board decoration tables, a networking area, photo booths, spin wheels with lots of prizes and university swag. The university mascots, Valor, the AMU Golden Eagle, and Jake, the APU Volunteer Dog, joined in on the fun!
- The Graduate Welcome Reception provided graduates, faculty, and staff with an evening of hors d’oeuvres and networking.
- The Class of 2015 featured more than 5,000 bachelor’s, 3,600 master’s, and 1,800 associate degree conferrals, expanding the APUS global alumni network to more than 50,000 worldwide. Graduates included more than 5,000 service members and, overall, hailed from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 38 countries across five continents. More than 1,000 graduates attended the ceremonies, with thousands more and their families watching and joining the celebration via live webcast from around the world.
“Just as APUS is unique, so are each of you, our graduates,” said APUS President and CEO Dr. Wallace E Boston, who charged them to “Capitalize on these moments and continue your education to set yourself apart.” Read the press release for more highlights of this year’s event.
The ceremonies can be viewed on our site. Thank you, and congratulations again to the Class of 2015 for all of your accomplishments. We wish you the best in your future endeavors, and hope that you continue on with the legacy of lifelong learning with your family and loved ones.