Seizing the moment to just say ‘thank you’
Graduation is right around the corner for the Class of 2015. This year, Advisement Specialist Brandy Belew, Advisement Specialist Emele Fleming and master’s student Jacob Jardel will have a thank you card station set up before and after graduation to allow diplomates one more chance to say goodbye and thank you
to the professors and faculty members who helped them along the track to the finish line.
The idea for the thanks-giving program originated at a poster presentation at the National Symposium on Student Retention, according to Belew.
She said East Carolina University, which has a similar program to show professor appreciation, indicated a positive impact on student retention.
“The hope is that these messages from our most recent graduates will foster positive faculty feelings which may positively impact the classroom experiences and indirectly increase student retention and satisfaction,” Belew said.
Because she planted the seed for the program just this year, getting final approval by the Public Exercises Task Force the last two months, Belew said only 300 cards will be available this year to serve as a test trial.
“As the Advisor for the School of Liberal Arts, I get to hear the most wonderful compliments about our faculty almost daily,” she said. “I have always wanted to share these stories with the faculty members who have made an impact on our students.”
The recognition cards will be delivered to the departmental mail boxes during intersession, waiting on the faculty members to return in August.
“Now, faculty will be able to read firsthand about the impact they make every day,” Belew said. “I think positive energy creates more positive energy and that energy has to come from somewhere, so why not at the biggest celebration of the academic year?”
Belew and Jardel are both master’s students, and after having crossed the graduation stage one time before, both agreed that an initiative like this would have been a welcomed addition to their ceremonies.
“Definitely,” Jardel said. “There are professors both within my department and outside of it who I wanted to thank but never got a chance to. Something like this would have been an amazing opportunity to do so.”
Having already hit the first milestone, Jardel said he believes making cards available to grads could help them embrace the raw emotions of the moment.
“It helps the graduates slow down and remember the impacts some of these people have had on their college careers,” Jardel said. “It’s in these moments where students can tell their instructors just how much they meant and staff members just how much they helped.”
In turn, professors who come back to the refreshing messages in the fall can receive closure from the last semester and vitality for the new school year.
“It’ll remind some of the professors why they got into the job in the first place: to inspire and to help students become productive and compassionate young adults,” he said. “On top of that, they all receive recognition that they all truly deserve.”
Belew said she’s excited to see how many students participate in this extra service.
“Working commencement is awesome; getting to see students celebrate the culmination of their education at commencement is something I look forward to each year,” she said. The table will be open to graduates as soon as the gates to the Cameron Stadium open. Students must be in line for graduation by no later than 7 p.m. The table will open again after graduation for last minute thank you cards, if supplies last.