Oak Leaves

February  17, 2017


Seniors Toast to Graduation

Shelby Harrell

An aura of elegance and sentiment filled the room as approximately 400 members of the graduating class of 2017 entered the Upper Jo Young Switzer Center last Wednesday evening.

There they were presented with a wide array of hors d’oeuvres, ranging from spanakopita to shrimp cocktail, as they were encouraged to mix and mingle to celebrate the annual 101 Days Till Commencement.

Jennifer Shepherd, the director of Alumni Relations at Manchester University, spearheaded the event. Shepherd graduated from MU’s class of 1984, after which she spent a number of years working as an educator before returning to Manchester in 2011. “The 101 Days Till Commencement is basically a celebration that the students’ education is complete,” Shepherd said. “It’s a  testament to the amount of hard work that they have put in.”
Shepherd was not alone in her own hard work toward putting on the festivities. The event was a product of a collaboration between the Office of Alumni Relations and Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT), an MU organization comprised of students who wish to build on the relationships between the university and its alumni. Shepherd describes the purpose of the organization as a means of facilitating a network of communication between past Manchester graduates. “Throughout their lives and careers alumni are always eager to return,” Shepherd said. “We are all connected.”

After completing dinner, students looked toward their futures when they were introduced to the alumni speakers. Laine Mello, a graduate of the class of 2012, told the class that life is not always going to cater to their plans, but they should remain determined and not give up. Mello graduated with a major in marketing and a minor in art. In addition, she has just begun to pursue her master’s in communications at Purdue University.
Mello’s former classmate, Ben Tapper, then delivered his speech. Tapper reflected on his four-year journey at Manchester and offered the seniors insight on life after graduation. “It’s all about finding your ‘why’ in life,” Tapper said. “What is your purpose?” Tapper then left each member of the senior class with one final thought, encouraging them to find out what their passion is, and to spend their lives pursuing it.