Behind the scenes: ASU graduation

Behind the scenes: ASU graduation

October 9, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


“I know you guys checked all the staging
yesterday. You checked all the seats.” People don’t know who I am, and
that’s OK. But my goal is to give them something
special; that they walk away from the day saying, “That was great; I
felt like I was celebrated and my accomplishment was celebrated
and my family felt that joy.” And that’s important to me. “I need the undergraduate faculty procession, yes,
I need them in the concourse.” I got in just before 6 o’clock, but we
actually had staff on site as early as 5:30. We’ve had some overnight
folks here, security, the team did the setup of the seats
last night, so, everything happens in advance, so we’re trying to get as much
done as early as possible, so the day of the ceremony, we can come
in, check all the last-minute details, make sure that the platform is
set up, that the plants are in place, that all the little details that we have to have
are good to go. “So, for undergraduate commencement, this is what
we call a universitywide celebration.” We’re confirming that the videos are in place,
that we’ll be doing an audio check. “They’re, we’re going to have audio leave a
microphone for you on your chair.” It’s just a matter of making sure that
everybody is set. “Melissa Chavez.” People have asked me, “Oh, well you must have
a really big office.” And no, no, really I have another event
coordinator and an assistant who’s been my assistant for these
last 20 years. We work very well as a team, but I can’t do
this without all the other people that you see here. “Yes, right.” “Doors are opening, doors are opening.” The tunnel gets really busy. “Do we need to send another security
person out there?” This semester we have the added measure of,
we have security, so students will be coming through security. “Come on down, graduates! Here’s a map, what
college are you in? Can I help you out?” We’re checking them, making sure that they
know where their seating arrangements are. So, depending on what college they’re in
that it will determine where they’re sitting. “Please fill the lower seats first.” The job for me, I think, and for my team is to
make sure that we’re as calm as possible. So when that student comes to you in and
is kind of frazzled, that we can say, “It’s OK, we’re going to take care of you,” and
make sure that they know exactly what’s going to happen next. “You’re in section D as in dog. Right
over here.” My job is to make sure that we’re all headed
in the right direction. Things may go astray, occasionally. “They’ve got to move all the way to the side, because
I’ve still got to get platform down here.” “Yes, that’s why I moved them to the side.” “No, no, no! I …” “No, this way!” “This way! Go against this wall.” As long as it is happening behind the scenes,
if you’re not seeing it on stage and the audience isn’t aware of it — that’s the goal. If something does go wrong, that nobody’s
even aware that it’s happening. (Music) So, once the ceremony starts, I’m actually
in the back of the room. I’m on the com and I’m talking to cameras and
audio and just making sure that everything’s moving along. “OK, are you ready?” There’s a lot of behind-the-scene coordination
and it’s already done, but what I am doing is just kind of giving everyone the “heads up” — you know, just
be ready, we’re going to be announcing the members of the Board of Regents next. Get
ready, we’re going to be announcing our student profiles next. OK, Moeur Award recipients
are next and then we go into the presentation of all the deans to the
different colleges. “Opposite him.” “Health Solutions is section W at house right.” “Watts College is in section E as in Edward, off on house left.” “Kind of toward the back.” “That’s section D. That’s that group that stood up.” We’re always modifying things. Occasionally it’s
something like a name pronunciation, maybe that’s not quite right. I’ve checked in with
somebody and said this is the way it’s reading in the script, is that right? And we say no, we
need to tweak that a little bit. This is the way you say the name. We just want to make sure that those things are done well. That’s a quite a personal thing that somebody’s
name be announced the right way. “Congratulations, graduates!” This is the public recognition of who we are as
an institution. This graduation celebration is where we say, “These are
the people that we have educated and this is what we do as an institution.” All those
students are celebrated here. (music) This May is 20 years that I’ve been
in charge of graduation. “Balloons are coming down.” I get a little emotional about it because
it really is special, I do love it. (Music) The hope for me is that the students and the
families will walk away remembering the day and that they felt like it was special. (Music)