University Park, IL,
13:25 PM

Senior Cording Ceremony

College graduation is always a reason to celebrate. But Governors State University threw a special party last week in honor of some true GSU pioneers — those who were among its very first freshmen.

“You were with us as we built an undergraduate program that is a model for the nation, and you will leave a legacy that will define us for the next 50 years,” said President Elaine P. Maimon.

Among the students feted Wednesday’s Senior Cording Ceremony were those who enrolled as freshmen in 2014, the first year GSU admitted underclassmen, and in 2015 when GSU made small tweaks to the new undergrad program — replete with best practices like assigning undergrads to cohorts, which truly did help students make lifelong friends, the president said.

“We’ve learned from your experience,” Dr. Maimon said. “With us, you created the GSU of the future.”

More than two dozen smiling students and their family members gathered for the cording ceremony. Each student received a silken cord woven with GSU’s orange, black and white colors, which they will wear at Commencement 2019 on Saturday, as well as a framed certificate bearing a special commemorative 50th anniversary logo.

Robert Clay, Executive Director, Student Engagement and Intercultural Programs, praised them for their tenacity. “You stayed the course. You finished the race,” he said.

Will Davis, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and a GSU alumnus, welcomed them to the family of GSU alumni. “You are our best advertisement for GSU,” he said. “You’re the witness of what GSU can produce.”

And Aurelio Valente, Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, said he was thrilled by the accomplishments of seniors and “super seniors.” He said, “How long it took is far less important than the fact that you did it.”

Students had a chance to share their thoughts as well, each one expressing pride at what they and their classmates had achieved. “In college, at the age we are, 18 to 23 years old, we’re learning about ourselves,” said Bradford Simmons.

“During our four or five years here, it was an opportunity to learn who you are. Sometimes you think things are going one way but they end up another. That’s a beautiful thing. In college, you learn from your peers, from your mistakes, from your triumphs. I’m thankful for the opportunity I had at GSU to learn, to network, to share my talents,” he said.

For Emily Ames, the evening event was a chance to reflect on the path she’d begun four years ago. A Presidential Scholar, she was welcomed into the Honors Program, found time for theater productions, and worked in the financial aid office as she studied to become an elementary school teacher.

“No matter where you start, you’re going to find your family at GSU,” she said.