Walla Walla and Whitman College Prepare for Graduation Weekend

Rylee Neville

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On Sunday, May 19, Whitman Seniors will put on their caps and gowns and begin the next chapter of their lives. Months of planning and preparation go into graduation on the part of both students and faculty members. The process can be emotionally straining for Senior students, and the logistics can be overwhelming for the people that plan this event.

Senior Sarah Fix is full of anticipation for this big day.

“I don’t think it has hit me yet that it means leaving Whitman, but I am beyond excited!” Fix said.

Illustration by Nathaly Perez

Senior Chelsea Day shares Fix’s excitement but admits she is a little nervous. However, Day is confident in her plans for after graduation.

“I am mostly excited to get to celebrate the hard work my friends and I have put into school and how our hard work has helped us become successful,” Day said.

Graduation will be bittersweet for many who have to say goodbye to the people they’ve gotten to know in college. Despite having to say goodbye to those who have grown close, Fix admits that the memory of graduation will live with her forever.

“I really look forward to being able to have graduation be such a cool memory with the people that I’ve gotten to experience college with and seen and grow and change over the past four years,” Fix said.

While graduation is an exciting time, it is important not to forget the people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything goes smoothly. Jordan Schilling, Director of Conferences, Events, and Scheduling, led the planning of the events of graduation weekend, including the Commencement Ceremony on May 19.

“Commencement Weekend planning really is a nine month to full year process. Our Commencement Planning Committee consists of nearly 30 staff members from more than 12 different departments that play a role in the culmination of Baccalaureate, Commencement, and all of the other events that take place on that weekend such as the 50th Year Reunion,” Schilling said.

City permitting and equipment rentals take place in the fall. Then, the committee meets in January, April and early May to ensure everything is on track.

“It’s a full campus effort for that weekend to be a success and as long as we all work together and play our part it all comes together in a wonderful celebration for our graduating students and their families,” Schilling said.

With a multitude of family members and friends of graduates, graduation weekend brings an influx of people into Walla Walla. All the people coming into Walla Walla affects the local economy and local spaces such as restaurants, hotels and wineries.

“Whitman Commencement weekend definitely is a great boost for the local hospitality industry. Most, if not all, hotels and vacation rentals will be booked. I know many of the local hotels will sell out nearly a year in advance for that weekend. I think the restaurant and winery scene also enjoy great traffic as students, families, and alumni take some time to enjoy what may be one of their last trips to Walla Walla for some time,” Schilling said.

Schilling and the Commencement Planning Committee put in an incredible amount of work into graduation weekend. However, this hard work is for a good cause. Graduation represents why we are all here at Whitman, and celebrates students’ achievements.

“It’s pretty impressive to watch it all come together and take part in celebrating this great accomplishment for our graduates,” Schilling said.

According to Sarah Fix, students shouldn’t stress too much about graduation.

“In the end, you’re a Whitman grad who has earned a lot and whether you feel like it or not, you’ll be more than prepared to go out in the world and do awesome things,” Fix said.