Media Advisory: Wake Forest University Commencement 2014: Story ideas


Commencement: Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, will deliver Wake Forest University’s 2014 commencement address on Monday, May 19. The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Hearn Plaza.

Baccalaureate: Melissa Rogers, special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will deliver the 2014 baccalaureate address on Sunday, May 18. 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.


Career prep is critical in today’s economy — In a recent survey, nearly nine out of 10 of 500 executives polled said graduates lack the necessary skills to succeed, with interpersonal skills and adaptability being top on the list. Students must be ready to add value to the workplace from their first days on the job. Wake Forest’s unique “College to Career” courses and a focus on leadership skills, entrepreneurial thinking and internship opportunities are ensuring students are market ready. Vice president of career development Andy Chan, a national leader in personal and career development, can discuss trends in higher education related to career prep and skill development for the 21st century. “Even though the economy seems to be improving, it’s still a buyer’s market,” says Chan.

Where are the jobs? — Mercy Eyadiel, executive director of employer relations, can talk about growing industries and 2014 employment trends. Technology positions have increased 67% over last year. One example: Oracle. The company is expanding their internal sales team for East coast locations and looking for employees with solid work ethic and excellent communications skills who are also creative problem-solvers. The company made 34 offers of employment to Wake Forest students from a wide variety of majors and 25 have been accepted. (On average, on-campus recruiters make five offers.) Positions include everything from marketing to sales to technical roles to jobs in human resources. Eyadiel says Wake Forest has seen a 152% increase in opportunities in education with online education providers driving the growth. Job opportunities in the healthcare and insurance industries are also picking up.

Visually mapping a career path — Students are connecting their personal passions with potential professions using visual maps. “As far as we know, we are the first university to set up a designated area in a career center with the tools and support for students to use visual thinking techniques to assess their career plans,” says Katharine Brooks, executive director of personal and career development at Wake Forest and author of “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career.” For senior Toia Gathings, creating a visual map highlighted three key qualities she hadn’t noticed about herself before: self-determination, a joy in helping others and being results-oriented. The discovery swayed her career decisions. Instead of heading to law school, she applied to three marketing companies and received a job offer she feels better connects with her personal strengths.

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 fifth year Wake Forest has chosen to use the recycled plastic gowns. Students are available to talk about how this year’s graduating seniors have focused on sustainability, including the pledge many sign 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, Wake Forest partners with Goodwill to collect the items for the community. Students donate truckloads of items to the Goodwill through the DEACS Donate program. Organized by students in cooperation with the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing, DEACS Donate makes it easier for students to recycle clothing, small appliances and household items they plan to discard. Last year, they collected more than 7,000 pounds of donated goods. Wake Forest and Goodwill volunteers will pick up collected items from 3 to 5 p.m. May 5 – 9 and again on May 19 after commencement ceremonies conclude.



Dancing into business — Cynthia Huang, a business and enterprise management major, and dance minor from Chelmsford, Mass., is one of more than 25 Wake Forest students joining Oracle after graduation. Cynthia will work in Oracle’s sales academy program in Burlington, Mass.

Working hard on and off the gridiron— Wake Forest football flanker Brad Idzik, a mathematical business major, will head to Stanford to earn his Masters in Liberal Arts degree. He will also be working with the football team as an assistant graduate coach.

Teaching for America — Aaron Colston, an English and sociology double major from Roanoke, Va., will be teaching middle school math in Charlotte for Teach for America. Colston, a Magnolia Scholar, is a first-generation college student.

Marketing for a Cause – Amy Shackelford, a double major in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, and communication from Orlando, Fla., is joining Feminist Apparel as lead marketing manager. Shackelford pitched her skills to the Philadelphia startup to land the job.


About Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a nationally renowned 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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