Students pose with Wily the Bobcat at 100 Days Until Graduation event

Seniors mark 100 days until graduation at second annual countdown event

Evans Auditorium in Cannon Student Center was bustling with excited seniors as they learned everything there is to know about senior year and graduation at the second annual 100 Days Until Graduation event. The event took place Thursday, Jan. 27, and served as a way for seniors to take a breath and congratulate themselves for how far they have come.

The celebration was organized by Katie Talbert, executive director of institutional advancement and alumni relations, and Grace Champion, associate dean for STEP and career and life planning. The duo had been hard at work expanding the event from last year and making sure it was an enjoyable and informative celebration of graduation and the career and engagement opportunities available to graduates as they become alumni.

“A lot of times you start the spring semester and then there’s snow days, and you’re trying to apply for graduation, and next thing you know you’re packing your dorm and walking across the stage, and we never stop to acknowledge all the hard work you’ve done,” Talbert said, addressing the crowd of about 55 seniors.

The event featured several different stations where seniors could do just that, ranging from celebratory pictures with Wily the Bobcat and professional headshots, to information about Commencement and getting involved with the Alumni Association.

The event focused on the transition from being a student to an alum, highlighting ways that current seniors can stay connected with Lees-McRae for years to come. Lindsay Robins ’05 represented the Lees-McRae Alumni Board at the event, encouraging students to join their local alumni chapter following graduation.

“We have chapters throughout the state, and we’re working on establishing them throughout the country,” Robins said. “Being part of the Alumni Association lets you stay engaged with other alumni of all ages in the area that you live. They are often already established in those areas; they have good connections. For such a small school we really do have alumni everywhere.”

While many of the online students couldn’t attend the event in person, senior Chrystal Thomas, an online criminal justice major, made her way to campus to celebrate her accomplishments.

Thomas enrolled at Lees-McRae after receiving an associate degree in criminal justice from a community college and learning that her credits would transfer. She leapt at the opportunity to receive a four-year degree, and now hopes to continue her connection with the college for years to come.

“I’m probably going to be moving soon to Gastonia, so I’d like to join the alumni chapter in Charlotte,” Thomas said. “I may even be moving out of state at some point but either way I want to make sure I stay involved with Lees-McRae.”

For those online seniors that could not attend in person, Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) hosted a virtual portion of the event. Freshmen Haile Desmarais and Kat Stiles are members of STAT and operated the Give Me Five! booth at the event.

Give Me Five!, the senior giving campaign, encourages students to start a life of philanthropy by donating just five dollars to support student scholarships. Seniors who signed up for a recurring five-dollar monthly gift will earn a philanthropy cord to be worn at commencement.

“Coming to events like this starts to make me a little excited about graduation,” Stiles said. “I even feel like first semester flew by, but that just means we’re having fun.”

After completing each station and feeling much more prepared for graduation, seniors were invited to join a raffle for a free Lees-McRae diploma frame.

“There are so many ways that you can serve and stay connected, not just coming back once a year for homecoming,” Talbert said. “I can tell you, in 50 years you’ll be coming back for a reunion and being inducted into the Golden Heritage Society, and you’re going to be remembering all the wonderful moments that you shared here.”

To learn more and join your local alumni chapter visit our website. For more resources about career preparedness and the transition into the work force browse the Career and Life Planning webpage and pick up a career guide in Champion’s office.

By Maya JarrellJanuary 28, 2022
AlumniCampus Life