Illinois State University students graduating in winter 2021 are looking forward to personalizing their commencement experiences. Graduates can now choose to participate in one or more of three commencement options.

Students may choose to participate in an in-person winter 2021 commencement ceremony, and/or the Redbird Stage Crossing. Doctoral candidates may also participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony.

Each in-person commencement ceremony will last approximately one hour and take place in Redbird Arena on December 11. The ceremony includes the graduate processional, degree conferral, a symbolic tassel move for undergraduate students, and remarks by President Kinzy.

Graduates will not be individually recognized or cross the stage at commencement ceremonies. However, these experiences are available at the optional Redbird Stage Crossing.

Redbird Stage Crossing is a brief, individualized experience scheduled on an appointment basis between December 9–11.

Graduates who register will have their name read as they cross the stage and receive a diploma cover from a University representative.

A personalized slide will appear, and professional photographers will be present to take formal commencement portraits. Up to six guests may accompany the graduate to the stage viewing area, and additional seated guests are welcome.

The doctoral hooding ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 10, in the Prairie Room of the Bone Student Center.

The hooding ceremony is an intimate gathering of faculty and students in academic regalia to recognize the achievement of this highest academic accomplishment. During the ceremony, the student will be seated center stage while their name, dissertation/capstone title, and brief background of the student is read.

Annie Weaver, doctoral candidate in Educational Administration and Foundations said she is looking forward to the hooding ceremony because of its smaller size and personal meaning.

“I really wanted to have the ceremony to celebrate with my friends and family. I think this is a really special way to still have the graduation experience,” Weaver said.

After receiving the degree, Weaver will continue working at Illinois State’s Center for Civic Engagement as the assistant director of cocurricular programs.

“Someday I hope it will open doors for me in a future career opportunity,” Weaver said.

Undergraduate public relations major Julia Ridgway is also looking toward the future.

Ridgway hopes to secure a career in the marketing field as a social media manager, copywriter, or public relations specialist. Her dream job is to do social media marketing for an airline.

Ridgway said she is grateful for the opportunity to customize her own graduation experience, especially as one of four siblings.

“My family is a family of six, so there are at least five other people coming to watch me. I know my grandparents are coming as well,” Ridgway said.

Despite having the opportunity to attend both the in-person commencement and Redbird Stage Crossing ceremonies, Ridgway said she decided to attend only the stage crossing.

“To me at least, crossing the stage is the most fun part of graduation. This makes it easier. I get what I need, and I don’t feel any less recognized,” Ridgway said.

Physical education major Trevor Tanke will also be crossing the stage this December.

 “Graduation from college is a huge achievement for me, and I am excited to be able to accept a diploma [cover] in a formal setting,” Tanke said.

After graduation, Tanke plans on finding a teaching job and preparing for a graduate degree program. Tanke said he is looking forward to the Redbird Stage Crossing.

“Several classes missed that opportunity, so I will walk for myself, as well as all my friends who didn’t get the chance to,” Tanke said.