By Leischen Stelter
Editor of In Public Safety
Attending an online university requires students and faculty to work harder to connect. Instead of getting to know someone face-to-face in a classroom, engagement must happen through forum posts, emails, phone calls and chat sessions.
However, there is one exceptional opportunity for faculty and students to meet face-to-face: graduation. This year, American Public University System, which consists of American Military University and American Public University, is holding its annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 18 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland.
Commencement is a great opportunity for students to meet one another and for faculty members to meet the students they’ve watched progress through their programs. There are several great activities and events planned for students and faculty: Check out the full weekend schedule and download our free mobile app.
What Not to Miss
On Friday at 9:30 a.m., there is a Service Event where students, alumni, staff and faculty help package meals for those in need. It’s an opportunity not only to meet students and faculty from all different programs, but also give back to the community.
You won’t want to miss the Welcome Reception on Friday evening from 5 to 6:30 p.m. This networking event gives students, faculty and staff an opportunity to meet and mingle. The reception hall is divided by degree program, so students and faculty can easily locate others from their interest area.
“The Welcome Reception is amazing and it allows me to speak with students in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere,” said Dr. Chuck Russo, program director of the criminal justice program.
Dr. Nicole Drumhiller, program director of intelligence studies, agreed: “The Welcome Reception is one of my favorite parts of commencement. It’s a great opportunity to meet students whom you’ve been working with over the years, as well as their families.”
Celebrate with Your Family
Graduation is a very family-oriented event. “It’s amazing to see individuals graduate with their families looking on,” said Terri Wilkin, program director for legal studies and emergency and disaster management. “Their excitement and pride reminds me how important my job is and it shows the end result of what we try to do each day!”
Graduation is ultimately a celebration of all the long hours and hard work students put towards earning their degree. “Graduation recognizes the students’ work and their dedication to achieving a goal,” said Russo. “There are often family members in attendance and it sets a great example for a graduate’s children and siblings to see what is possible when one sets a goal.”
Networking at Commencement
While graduation is a great time for celebration with family, fellow students and faculty, it’s also an excellent networking opportunity. “Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to faculty, deans and directors and share your experiences with them,” said Drumhiller. “They love hearing about your accomplishments and want to hear your challenges, so they can make changes to help future students.”
Remember to pack not just clothes, but marketing supplies. “Carry your business cards at all times and keep your resume handy so, if requested, you can produce one in a matter of minutes,” said Russo. You never know whom you’re going to meet.
If you’re unable to attend graduation, you can still participate by watching the live stream of the ceremonies.
This article originally appeared on In Public Safety.