A Celebration All Their Own

College Ceremonies Mark JMU Commencement

Posted: May 6, 2013

James Madison University graduate Nandi Alexander, 22, a Media Arts and Design/Justice Studies double major, celebrates after degrees were conferred at the commencement ceremony for JMU’s College of Arts and Letters graduates. The ceremony was held on the campus Quadrangle. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
With the Duke Dog standing atop his mortarboard, history major Andrew Martin, 26, from Dayton, cheers on fellow graduates during the ceremony.
Mortarboards fly at the close of JMU’s College of Arts and etters graduation ceremony on Sturday on the university Quadrangle. The ceremony was one of eight held Friday and Saturday, a departure from the traditional casswide gathering in Bridgeforth Stadium.
Thousands of family and friends of graduates turned out at JMU over the weekend to see their loved ones graduate.
Marina Mezzetti, 23, from São Paulo, Brazil, a communications major, snaps a photo with her phone on Saturday during the College of Arts and Letters ceremony on the Quadrangle.
HARRISONBURG — For the past four years, James Madison University student Russell Zeltner buried his head in history books, studying state, national and world history. On Saturday, all that hard work finally paid off. The 22-year-old Zeltner accepted a bachelor’s degree in history during the College of Arts and Letters commencement ceremony on JMU’s Quadrangle. The ceremony was one of eight such gatherings held Friday and Saturday as part of the university’s 104th annual commencement.

“It’s something I’ve looked forward to for years,” said Zeltner, of Washington Township, N.J, who plans to continue working part-time for a professor during the summer and pursue a career as a museum curator in the fall. “I’ve watched friends do it. Now it’s finally my turn.”

Smaller Ceremonies

Zeltner was among roughly 3,600 students to receive their degrees Friday and Saturday.

This year, to ease traffic, the university chose to have smaller, intimate ceremonies for individual colleges instead of having a universitywide fete.

On Friday night, 568 graduate and 16 doctoral students received their degrees at a ceremony at the Convocation Center. President Jonathan Alger spoke at the ceremony. On Saturday morning, seven colleges held ceremonies at various locations across campus. None of the ceremonies included commencement speakers.

Back To School

While Zeltner plans to go straight into the work force, some of his classmates are heading back to school.

Leonard Richards, 21, of Culpeper, plans to return to JMU in the fall to earn a graduate degree in teaching.

He wants to pursue a career teaching history to middle or high school students. He said graduating was exciting but he’s ready to do it again.

“It feels really good,” said Richards, who earned a history degree. “A long four years and one more to go.”

Teressa Daniels, 39, of Toms Brook, waited nearly two decades after graduating high school before pursuing her college degree.

She plans to start the graduate program for history in the fall and pursue a career teaching community college students.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it given my age, but it’s really exciting,” she said. “I waited a long time for this.”

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or pdelea@dnronline.com

NDN Video News