Media Advisory: Wake Forest University Commencement 2013: Story Ideas

Commencement: Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for the “PBS NewsHour” will deliver Wake Forest’s 2013 commencement address on Monday, May 20. The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Hearn Plaza.

Baccalaureate: Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States, will deliver the baccalaureate address on Sunday, May 19. The baccalaureate ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. in Wait Chapel.

The news office will issue a separate media advisory with logistical details for commencement weekend. Media and photography passes may be reserved now.


Bucking the Trend to Help Students Get Jobs — Did you know that 95% of WFU’s Class of 2012 reported being employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation, according to first destination survey results (compared to 66% nationally; source: NACE)? While the average college has slashed its career office budget by 16%, Wake Forest is bucking the trend – and it’s paying off. In three years, Wake Forest has raised more than $10 million for its Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) to invest in a state-of-the-art new office, unique “College to Career” courses, enhanced employer relations and quadrupling the size of the staff. Today, under vice president Andy Chan’s leadership, Wake Forest is known as a national leader in personal and career development.

2013 Job Outlook — Because Wake Forest has made personal and career development a mission-critical component of the college experience, Mercy Eyadiel, executive director of employer relations, and other OPCD experts can talk about the increase in campus recruiting this year, where students are finding jobs and the latest employment numbers. They can address topics such as:

  • Job prospects for 2013 grads vs. recent years;
  • What WFU does to help prepare students for life (and work) after college;
  • How grads can make the most of their time if they don’t have a job yet;
  • How to effectively market a liberal arts or humanities degree;
  • When to take (or pass on) an opportunity that’s not your “dream” job
  • Tips for getting along with a new boss.

Time to Link In — Ladd Flock, associate director of College To Career Community Partnerships, says students need to think about what they have posted on their social media profiles as they graduate and look for new careers. “This is the time to remove photos or updates that don’t show you off in the most professional light, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to proactively demonstrate your readiness for that first job out of school,” Flock says. “Prospective employers will Google you. What will they find? That’s your new first impression.”  He says LinkedIn can be particularly helpful for new graduates, and he can provide specific tips for leveraging other social media in the job hunt. The Wake Forest Career Connectors LinkedIn group currently has more than 6,300 students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff – a sizeable number for a school with just 55,000 living alumni.

Graduating Green — Graduation gowns made from recycled bottles are the latest trend.  A Triad area company makes the fabric used in the gowns Wake Forest grads will wear as they get their diplomas.  This is the fourth year Wake Forest has chosen to use the recycled plastic gowns. Students are available to talk about how this year’s seniors have focused on sustainability.  Graduating seniors also sign a pledge showing their commitment to sustainability after they leave campus.

Trash to Treasure: Deacs Donate Program Reduces Waste When students move out of residence halls at the end of the academic year, they donate truckloads of carpets, lamps, ironing boards, chairs and hundreds of other items to the Salvation Army through the DEACS Donate program. Organized by students in cooperation with Residence Life and Housing staff, DEACS Donate makes it easier for students to recycle clothing, small appliances and household items they plan to discard. Wake Forest partners with The Salvation Army to collect the items for the community. Last year, they collected more than 7,000 pounds of donated goods. Wake Forest and Salvation Army volunteers will pick up collected items from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.  May 7 to 10 and again on May 20 after commencement ceremonies conclude. More details.

First test-optional class — The Class of 2013 is the first test-optional class, meaning students did not have to submit an SAT or ACT score for admission. Today, Wake Forest remains the most prestigious national university not to require standardized tests. Dean of Admissions Martha Allman can discuss how this landmark decision has made the student body – starting with the Class of 2013 – academically stronger, and more racially and socio-economically diverse.


Not your everyday, small market reporting Jawad Wahabzada was recently named a fellow for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. He will travel to Rio de Janeiro to report on the 170,000 Brazilians who may be relocated from their homes as the city makes room for construction and infrastructure projects to accommodate the millions of expected visitors for the 2014 World Cup.

Socially conscious Gen Y — Kelly Chervin, a senior sociology major from Bedford, N.Y., has worked tirelessly to engage students in social issues while seeking to integrate education and reflection more fully into Wake Forest service programs. Winner of the Change Maker Award for Social Justice, she spent the past summer interning with CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment). After graduation, Kelly will pursue her passion for education and her dedication to service with Teach For America in New Orleans.

Football and Fulbright — Jason Green, a biology major from White Plains, N.Y., travelled to South Africa to study both the research side and the business side of treatments for cardiovascular disease to learn better how to combat heart disease in developing countries. In the fall, Jason will study medicine in Sweden as a Fulbright scholar. In addition to his major in biology, Jason earned a minor in anthropology and played football during his time at Wake Forest.

Studying baby gorillas – Diana Simpson, an anthropology major from Southern Pines, N.C., has done research for the past year on the baby gorillas at the North Carolina Zoo. She has several offers to work as a research assistant in the Raleigh area after graduation. The two gorillas were born in Asheboro in August. For her senior research thesis, Simpson had the rare opportunity to study the parenting styles of two different gorilla moms as they raise their infants.

Starting their careers at their alma mater

Winston-Salem native Mark Covington, Jr., was excited to spend more time in his hometown of Winston-Salem as a fellow in the Office of University Advancement, and do some traveling as well. “There’s still a lot for me to learn here. It’s a good place to make connections with alumni and see the university from a different side,” said the psychology major, who wants to pursue a career in higher ed.

As an associate in Information Systems, Kory Riemensperger, an English and communication double-major from Jacksonville, N.C., is one of 15 graduates hired to bring a student perspective to many administrative functions at the University.


About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at

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