Commencement story ideas from Wake Forest


  • The path from college to career is more complex and competitive than any other time in history.
  • Securing top talent early is key. More employers are pre-screening and fast tracking applicants.
  • Internships matter more than majors when deciding between two equally qualified candidates.
  • Graduate interviews available.

Carla Harris, vice chairman, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley will deliver Wake Forest University’s commencement address on Monday, May 21. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Hearn Plaza.

A livestream webcast of the Commencement ceremony will be available at

Also joining Wake Forest for the commencement weekend will be Baccalaureate speaker His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan. The Baccalaureate service will be held Sunday, May 20 at 9 a.m. in Wait Chapel. Cardinal Dolan will offer mass at 4 p.m. on May 20 for graduating students, their families and guests.

A livestream webcast of Baccalaureate will be available at

Commencement, Baccalaureate and the Catholic mass are not open to the public.

Media credentials are required to attend commencement events. Submit requests using this online form. Parking passes will be required to enter campus. All members of the media are also asked to carry their own media credentials. Morning television crews may arrive as early as 5 a.m.

More details on commencement and baccalaureate speakers are available here.

Interview our experts

Trends in personal and career development:
Andy ChanAndy Chan, Vice President, Innovation & Career Development

  • The path from college to career is more complex and competitive than any other time in history. Today, there are more career options available, paths are not linear, and the job search process is challenging.
  • With 97.5% of 2017 Wake Forest grads either employed or in graduate school, Chan can provide tips for parents on supporting college students in discovering, planning for and launching a career after graduation.

What employers want:
Mercy EyadielMercy Eyadiel, Associate Vice President, Career Development & Corporate Engagement

  • Securing top talent early is key. More employers are pre-screening and fast tracking applicants, reducing hiring time from as long as 90 days to 30.
  • Recruiters are looking for grads who have combined their studies with data analytic and IT skills. The trend is also notable for mid-career professionals who want to upskill.

Internships are game-changers:
Lee Svete, Vice President, Innovation & Career Development

  • In past years, employer surveys consistently found the student’s major to be the deciding factor between two otherwise equally qualified candidates. This year, the most influential factors are whether the candidate completed an internship with the hiring organization or within the hiring organization’s industry.
  • To increase local internship opportunities for students at both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State, our schools are working together with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce to identify local internships that make it easier for students to participate during the academic year.

Career development from day one:
Heidi RobinsonHeidi Robinson, Director of Career Education and Training

  • Wake Forest requires first-year students to attend a session on personal and career development during orientation weekend. A session for parents is offered as well.
  • Students who take classes in personal and career development throughout their college experience learn how to connect their academic passions with the marketplace – whether that marketplace is the workforce or graduate school. Wake Forest’s for-credit career classes, though not required, are so popular some are available online.

Interview our grads

Winston-Salem native Rose O’Brien said she knew she would have to leave her hometown to learn about other cultures. “I ate my words,” Rose said. “Here in my own backyard, I’ve met people from all over the world.” Refugee supporter, educator and advocate, Rose founded the WFU Student Association for the Advancement of Refugees and organized Wake Forest’s first World Refugee Day. In 2017, she received the Building the Dream award for exemplifying Martin Luther King’s qualities and working to promote diversity within the community. Rose will be teaching in Italy after graduating.

Zachary Triplett wanted to be a G-man since middle school when all his favorite shows – think “Criminal Minds” – featured FBI agents. He majored in both history and politics and international affairs, and worked closely with mentors who helped him build his resume. After waiting patiently for security clearance, Zach was offered a full-time internship with the FBI’s gang unit between his junior and senior years. During his senior year, he continued his internship in Charlotte, working 16 hours a month. Zach will be working in the bureau’s surveillance program after graduation. “This is my way of continuing to live out Wake’s Pro Humanitate motto,” said Zach.

When her father was diagnosed with cancer, Nia McIntosh learned through personal experience that the right people aren’t always in the room, especially in health care. Nia will be attending NYU to study health policy and administration after graduation. “I want to help create policies that build networks of people who work together to provide patients with the best care,” she said. In her many leadership positions, Nia, who is from St. Paul, Minn., helped strengthen the Wake Forest community by “making sure all voices were present at the table.” She connected academic departments, administrative offices and student organizations campuswide to plan more than 40 events celebrating Black History Month in 2018.

During her summer internship in marketing with an international consulting firm, Alex Reyes said she felt like a fish out of water. “Majoring in sociology, I didn’t understand the terminology or have the proficiency in spreadsheet and presentation software that the business interns brought with them,” she said. What she did bring with her were the strong teamwork and communication skills many businesses report they most need. The company provided support and training. She credits the organization’s mentoring program with building her confidence and helping her find her voice. Alex, who is from Union City, N.J., will begin her career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Categories: Commencement, Events, Top Stories