Party Time! Graduating Students Kick Up Their Heels at GradFest

Posted: May 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm, Last Updated: May 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

Students, above and below, took part in the annual Alumni Brunch as part of GradFest 2010. Photo by Evan Cantwell

For the majority of graduating college students, the end of the semester can be a very stressful and hectic time. Studying for finals, getting resume and job applications in order and lining up interviews can be daunting tasks that seem to never end.

In an effort to relieve some of the stress that comes along with their futures, Mason’s graduating students were invited to take break from the hustle and bustle during GradFest 2010.

Quickly becoming an annual tradition at Mason, GradFest is a series of fun events that recognizes the accomplishments of Mason’s graduating students and encourages them to cultivate a lifelong relationship with their alma mater.

“One of the most important aspects of the planning process was to make sure that these events were geared toward both seniors and graduate students,” says Alissa Karton, assistant to the vice president in University Life. “All of Mason’s graduating students are invited and encouraged to participate in events that are designed exclusively for them.”

GradFest activities were planned by University Life and a university-wide committee of staff members and students.

Photo by Evan Cantwell

GradFest kicked off with a trip to Six Flags America in Maryland. On Saturday, April 24, members of the Mason community, friends and family took over the concourse and spent the day rolling and twisting on wild rides, conquering games and enjoying the exclusive all-you-could-eat buffet.

At the President’s Honors Reception at Mathy House, the Mason president’s residence, Mason President Alan Merten greeted and congratulated students graduating with honors. Approximately 200 students attended the reception and had their pictures taken with Merten.

“Having the opportunity to be in the presence of the president of Mason, a university that has been my home for many years, was an amazing experience,” says Najla Bayram, a senior biology major.

“President Merten made all of us feel so welcome in his home, and I appreciated how he took the time to recognize the achievements of each one of us.”

Photo by Evan Cantwell

Graduating students were also invited to attend the annual Alumni Affairs Grad Brunch & Movin’ On Fair. Students enjoyed light breakfast foods, met members of the Alumni Association and decorated their graduating caps.

At the Movin’ on Fair, representatives from Annual Giving, University Libraries, Patriot Club and Parking Services were on hand to help graduating students learn more about opportunities available to them.

“Overall, I really enjoyed the brunch and the other GradFest activities because it’s a celebration of our achievements after four years at Mason,” says Krista Muise, a senior who had a double major in government and international politics and conflict analysis and resolution.

“The event was more than just a brunch. It’s recognition that we finally made it, and since it can be difficult going from student to alumni, the transition was much easier with so many people around offering encouragement.”

A cruise aboard the Cherry Blossom was a highlight of GradFest 2010.

At the Senior Class Giving Party, all seniors who donated to the university were treated by the Office of Annual Giving to a celebration with refreshments and dancing. The donors are permanently recognized on the Senior Giving plaque that hangs in the Johnson Center.

Last-minute givers could make a donation at the door or empty their Patriot Pig, a piggy bank given to seniors that provides an easy and painless way to give a little something back to their soon-to-be alma mater.

According to Mileta Neely, development assistant in the Office of Annual Giving, about $300 was collected at the door, adding to the more than $1,000 already raised this year.

Graduating students came out to show their support for the Mason Patriots at the Baseball Game of the Week on May 4. Although the team wasn’t able to pull out a win against the Liberty Flames, students still enjoyed free hot dogs and hamburgers and had opportunities to win prizes. In addition, students learned about special athletics discounts and programs available to them as alumni.

A Potomac River cruise proved to be one of the most popular GradFest events. Students boarded the Cherry Blossom, a re-creation of a 19th-century Victorian riverboat, in Old Town Alexandria, Va. Students enjoyed food and music while marveling at breathtaking nighttime views of Old Town and the Washington, D.C., skyline.

On the day of the Commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 15, at 10 a.m., students are invited to gather together one last time before processing into the Patriot Center. They can visit the Bagels and Bubbles tent on the North Plaza to enjoy a light breakfast and mimosas before lining up for the procession to Patriot Center in their green caps and gowns.

Once the degrees have been conferred, the Office of Career Services will offer graduates a series of workshops that will help them prepare for the professional world.

Workshops such as “Behavioral Interviewing” and “How to Research and Talk to Employers” will take place in Student Union Building I, Rooms A and B, on Thursday, May 20, from 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

See the GradFest 2010 web site for more information and a complete schedule of events.

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