A revitalized Graduation Expo will be held at the Milo Bail Student Center atrium March 8 to give upcoming graduates a “one-stop shop” for their commence-ment needs.
Andrea Dunn, student and events coordinator at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Bookstore, led the call to revamp this spring’s event and said she found a great passion in doing so.
“I was really invested in making this a fun event,” Dunn said. “The bookstore doesn’t want to be like the DMV and just take money from students and make them wait in long lines. We care about them from day one to when they’re 102 years old and still have a Maverick legacy.”
Dunn planned activities to be held throughout the Expo. With the help of Josten’s, a celebration and memorial company, the expo will provide a day-long event starting at 10 a.m. to place orders for commencement regalia, class rings, diploma frames and much more.
Scattered between the checkbook-necessary stops will be a photo booth, coffee bar, a live broadcast from MavRadio and prize packages for all in attendance.
Dunn researched the success of other universities around the U.S. in order to prepare for such an interactive event. She said even though many people prefer online shopping for graduation items, bringing the student involvement aspect into the expo will make for better connections.
“A college experience is a lasting memory, even up until the last semester,” Dunn said. “Just 20 years ago, UNO was a commuter campus, and we have grown leaps and bounds since then. To make commencement a collaboration with students is so genuine. I find it is even more original at a school like UNO because we aren’t a cookie cutter university. Our diversity is what makes us who we are.”
Dunn said one of her favorite moments of the commencement process is seeing family pride among graduates and an overall anticipation that washes over the honorees. First-generation college students, international students and family descendants make up a large portion of graduates.
In addition to reaching an emotional level, the Graduation Expo will introduce new, fully branded regalia for this year’s commencement. Each gown—whether undergraduate or beyond—will have the UNO logo on the sleeve and will be made of biodegradable, sustainable plastics.
Although UNO’s regalia used to be ordered through a rental system, graduates now have to purchase their gowns. The prices of the gowns rose by a mere $2.
“The cap and gown is your RSVP to commencement,” Dunn said. “It’s the number one thing you think of when it comes to the milestone. I even had a doctoral student come into my office two months early to order her cap and gown because her thesis presentation went well. There is a huge amount of excitement behind it all.”
Dunn’s additional plans for the Graduation Expo include an increase in advertising with planned email blasts and postcards. She also hopes to continue promoting UNO’s diversity with a potential event for mortar board decoration with the May 5 commencement date quickly approaching.
“We have a lot of new ideas,” Dunn said. “We aren’t completely there yet, but it’s my job to make this a memorable occasion for students.”
To attend the Graduation Expo, students must make sure they have applied for their degree and met with their adviser.
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