Last weekend I had the privilege of watching my cousin Lindsey graduate from college in Phoenix. Now, I am one of the stranger people in the world that actually enjoys attending graduation ceremonies. I love the pomp and circumstance of it all. I love the music, caps and gowns, commencement speech, and the endless parade of graduates walking across the stage. I love what it signifies: young people dedicating themselves to learning and finishing all of the requirements, with some doing so against all odds.
As a family member, I had a great weekend; everyone was so proud to see her complete this accomplishment and the joy she had as she starts her next adventure was infectious. As an educator, I loved sitting in that auditorium with nearly 500 young people who were completing their education and watching their excitement as they ran around taking selfies with friends. I loved seeing their caps all decorated proclaiming their excitement, and the families in the stands cheering and screaming as their graduate’s name was called. To me, it was magical!
What I love most about graduation ceremonies is that the school is taking the opportunity to celebrate each and every single student’s success, regardless of whether they were great students or those students who struggled but still got there. You know how it is… some students go to school and they do what they need to do to graduate, other students come in, they leave, they come back, they have drama, they have challenges and then they FINALLY complete. To me, these are the students that truly deserve the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony. The fact that they gutted it out and stuck with it makes me want to celebrate with them.
I realize that in a clock hour type of education with multiple starts per year, it is difficult to have a formal graduation ceremony. However, I do know of some beauty schools who offer a formal graduation ceremony twice a year where they allow all students who have graduated within the previous six months attend. If that is a possibility, I say do it!
But even if you can’t do the formal ceremony, I do challenge you to take a look at what you are doing to celebrate each and every student’s achievements. Do you simply hand them a diploma and say congratulations? Do you invite their family to come and watch a formal presentation in the student salon or during theory? Do you buy a cake, balloons, and a card for everyone to sign? Do you tweet it or post it on Facebook? Whatever it is, do something to make it special!
The day that a student completes their hours may simply be a Thursday for us, but for them it is the day their life changes forever. It is the start of their next journey!
Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.