About 3,700 students will participate in commencement ceremonies next weekend at Illinois State.

With so many grads, there will inevitably be a few students who put a little message on top of their mortarboard (the square, ceremonial cap worn by grads) for all the world to see.

So the STATEside crew thought it would be fun to look through the Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives and other spots to find some creative (and not-so creative) examples of mortarboard self-expression.

thanks mom-dad

1. The old favorite: Honor the Mamas and the Papas.


2. In case there are any recruiters in the audience, make it clear that you already have a job. (1995)


3. Don’t overthink it: Respect the Redbird. (2008)


4. As cute as you may be in your hat, a little kid will always be cuter. (1989)

2007-deaf ed

5. Give some props to your academic program … (2007)

Discover mortarboard

6. … Or to your new employer. (2014)


7. This is a tough look to pull off. Not advised. (1976)


8. Also not advised: Super-jumbo mortarboards. Unless you’re a twin. (1964)

2008-no day

9. Quote the musical Rent whenever possible. (2008)


10. Don’t worry. Be happy. It’s your graduation! (1989)


11. Caution: Don’t do this either. (2010)

2010-two degrees

12. Don’t be shy. Brag a little bit if you’re earned it. (2010)

Mortarboards teachers

13. If you’re a Redbird educator, an apple is a must. (2015)

Mortarboard Up Adventure

14. Things are looking Up. It’s time to celebrate. (2015)

Family, friends, and supporters who can’t make it to commencement can watch the ceremonies online. View the full schedule and links to the video streams.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.