Commencement ceremony breaks record
The number of graduation participants soared as high as the balloons that cascaded from the ceiling and onto the ecstatic graduates May 19 at the Freeman Coliseum.
The spring 2018 commencement ceremony was the largest in the nine-year history of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, according to A&M-San Antonio’s website.
There were 758 students who walked the stage, compared with 650 in winter 2017 and 660 in spring 2017, David Perryman, director of marketing and communications, wrote in an email Tuesday, June 19.
As the spring 2018 ceremony represented a new stage in each graduate’s life, it also signifies a change and growth for the university.
Since fall 2016, enrollment has increased by more than 2,000 students, according to registrar Rachel Montejano.
“As our university continues to grow, we expect to see our graduation numbers increase as well, since the majority of our students come to us as transfer students,” Montejano wrote in an email Wednesday, June 20. “A steady growth in new transfer students results in a steady growth of graduates for our institution.”
Perryman said the first commencement ceremony was in fall 2009. That year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry established A&M-San Antonio as a stand-alone university, according to the university’s website.
In 2009-2010, the university awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees to 212 students in the fall, 291 in the spring and 115 in the summer, according to Jane Mims, director of institutional research.
In fall 2016, the university welcomed its first freshman class as an official four-year university, according to A&M-San Antonio’s website.
That academic year, 1,395 students received degrees from A&M-San Antonio.
So far in 2017-2018, the university has awarded degrees to 582 students in fall 2017 and 652 in spring, according to Mims.
Spring commencement ceremonies include some students who will graduate this summer. The university does not have a summer ceremony.
“Summer graduates are eligible to walk the stage in the spring ceremony if they apply early enough,” Dolores Scritchfield, registrar services specialist, said in a phone interview Wednesday, June 20.
“The number of summer applicants who had applied early enough to participate in the ceremony doubled” from summer 2017, she said. Approximately 200 students applied early for summer 2018 graduation, Scritchfield said.
The amount of graduates has increased over the years as enrollment at the university has consistently grown. That is due to the affordable price, an expanse in recruiting efforts and a new branding campaign, Perryman said.
“Enrollment is up because we’re actively recruiting in more geographic markets and doing a better job with our marketing and advertising to target students who will be a ‘good fit’ at our university,” he wrote in an email July 4. “Once those students enroll, we’re surrounding them and their families with the necessary support and services to boost persistence rates.”
Since 2009 to date, the total degrees awarded at A&M-San Antonio is 9,748.
Not all graduates participate in the commencement ceremony, Scritchfield said.
“For the ceremony, it is optional for students to participate,” she said. “They are not required. Students have to apply for graduation — that is a requirement.”
Seyla Balderas contributed to this story.