For most students, handing in their last final in December marks the beginning of winter break and the anticipation of another semester, but to several hundred students it signifies an end to their time at Ithaca College.
Graduating students and their families and friends will have the chance to celebrate their achievement during a reception at 1 p.m. Sunday in Emerson Suites. The reception is designed as a way for the college to acknowledge the students who are leaving in the middle of the year.
“This is a way for us to at least have a celebration for them as they are leaving the campus,” Brian McAree, vice president of student affairs and campus life, said.
This year 381 students are slated to graduate at the end of the semester. The number of students graduating in December has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Last year, 330 students graduated in the fall 2009 semester, and in the fall 2008 semester, 271 students graduated, Kristyn Lingenfelter, assistant registrar for student services, said.
McAree said students graduate mid-year for many reasons.
“Some programs finish mid-year, like the four-and-a-half year program for music students,” he said. “Some people graduate early because of AP credits. Other people decide to spend another semester simply because they traveled overseas or changed majors.”
Senior Alex Mogil, a December graduate who will attend Sunday’s reception, is finishing his degree in three and a half years because he was able to transfer 16 Advanced Placement credits from high school.
Mogil said he doesn’t have any immediate plans following the end of the semester. He hopes to get a job or internship lined up, so for the time being he said he doesn’t plan on attending the May commencement.
“If I get a job then after working for four months, I’ll already be adjusted to the real world and [won’t] want to come back and feel like a student again,” he said.
About 75 of the graduates are expected to attend this year, but 300 to 350 people will attend the reception, McAree said.
Senior speech communications major Derek Plance is graduating at the end of the semester to save a semester’s worth of tuition.
Plance said he plans to attend the reception for his parents.
“The reception seemed like a great way to end my college career and have them with me to see it,” he said.
Over the years, the event has evolved from being simply a reception to including several speakers from across the campus.
Danielle Giserman, senior class president, will speak at the reception on behalf of the class of 2011.
Giserman said besides giving parting words to the students who are leaving campus, she plans on stressing that they are welcome back in May for senior week and commencement activities.
“It’s our last way to push to them that ‘We’re here for you, let us know how the real world is,’” she said.
Tanya Saunders, dean of the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies, will deliver the keynote address. Other speakers will include President Tom Rochon and Gretchen Van Valen, director of alumni relations.
Saunders said she plans to address the idea of life-long learning and the elements needed to live a meaningful life beyond college.
Plance said ultimately he is proud to graduate early and is looking forward to his future beyond the college.
“I felt I reached my goal of obtaining an education at IC,” he said.