Students throwing caps from last year's graduation.

Four years of rigorous academic work at East Carolina University will soon culminate for seniors into a day of pomp and circumstance, as the month of May brings graduation season to the ECU and Greenville community.

Graduation ceremonies begin May 4, with each department hosting its own commencement ceremonies. The University Commencement Ceremony is set to start at 7 p.m. in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. More than 5,500 students, including almost 4,000 undergraduates, are expected to receive their degrees this spring, according to ECU’s Office of the Registrar graduation records. The conferral of 5,282 degrees were approved by the ECU Board of Trustees during its meeting on April 20.

In addition to the festivities for graduating seniors on ECU’s campus, the first ECU Grad Bash will take place on May 3 in Uptown Greenville’s Five Points Plaza. There, Greenville band Spare Change will play live music while alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase, along with complimentary soft drinks and cupcakes, free of cost to students.

“The Grad Bash is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most,” Mary Grace Allen, a senior biology major, said. “It’s just a time to spend with your graduating friends, enjoying life and reminiscing on how fast the four years of your life went by.”

The process of degree approval starts with the successful completion of a graduation application on PiratePort, according to the ECU Office of the Registrar's official website. Graduation applications must have been completed at least one semester prior to completing the requirements of the degree.

To senior anthropology major Leangeli Gomez-Nunez, the graduation application process “could not have been easier.”

“You just had to fill out some easy things such as your curriculum selection, graduation date, the name you want on your diploma and where you want your diploma mailed to,” Gomez-Nunez said. “It was a simple as clicking a few buttons and then you were done.”

The farewell from academia is not the only farewell some ECU seniors have to make in May. To students such as senior Geoffrey Whitley, being a member of several student organizations and clubs on campus have served as a “foundational” part of the ECU experience.

From his time spent as a resident and orientation assistant to choreographing for ECU’s Fashion Above Modern Expression, or F.A.M.E., Modeling Troupe, Whitley said he owes it to ECU for preparing him for life after graduation.

“The organizations here at ECU have empowered me to be a leader and a voice for my community,” Whitley, a communication and fashion merchandising double major, said. “There’s a trickle-down effect that I hope to have left on this campus. Do good work once, and hopefully your legacy will carry on and impact another individual to continue your good work.”

ECU’s Spring Commencement Ceremony will take place at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on May 4 and delivering the commencement speech is Linda McMahon, the administrator of the United States Small Business Administration.

Appointed as SBA Administrator by President Donald Trump and confirmed in January 2017 by the United States Senate, McMahon is an ECU alumni and co-founder of the WWE.

Whitley said he is looking forward to the commencement speech as a time to “bring all of his graduating friends together in one space.” Being that his friends will be graduating in their respective majors at different days and times than Whitley, he said he credits the commencement speech as the “perfect time” to “bring together a graduating class of Pirates.”

While the Chancellor’s Office at ECU is responsible for coordinating with the commencement speaker directly, the ECU Office of Student Transitions is responsible for the logistics behind the commencement speech, such as parking and social media.

Mary Beth Corbin, the executive director of the ECU Office of Student Transitions, is “excited” to have the OST work on graduation logistics for the seniors, especially since the OST was the very office responsible for “orienting and welcoming these same seniors on campus” at the beginning of their undergraduate journey.

“It’s a bittersweet moment. We know that these seniors are grown and that this is where the journey comes to a close,” Corbin said. “They’ve been great contributors to our university and we know that they will use all that they learned here to better themselves in life post-graduation.”

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