Paul LeBlanc giving his SNHU 2016 Commencement address. (Image credit: SNHU On Campus)

Commencement is right around the corner and the Commencement Ambassador Program (CAP) allows interested students to get involved in the Commencement process.

This year is the initial year of this program. It is a new idea that borrows from the best practices of leadership groups around campus and ensures it will be a benefit to students as much as it will be to the Commencement Office.

Scott Tierno is the Executive Director of Commencement for university students, online and College for America (CFA) students. Nicole Doane is the Associate Director of Commencement as well as the supervisor for the CAP program. The office has been in existence since July 2015 and has been growing ever since.

CAP provides a unique leadership experience for students of all colleges and it does not market itself to any specific student population. Online and CFA students will be included in the initiative as much as the university students during Commencement weekend.

Commencement weekend is a busy one, but Tierno and Doane coordinate about 35 staff members across the university to help prepare for the ceremonies.

The goal is to not only utilize students as part of the process, but also to have that student voice weaved in. In addition, it provides ample leadership opportunities to students.

“The student voice is the central voice. It’s all about the students, and the staff, faculty and workers are there for the students,” explained Doane.

With this philosophy in mind, the first group to be a part of CAP will get to make the program their own with some help along the way.

As this new initiative begins to be implemented, new opportunities for the future continue to be thought of. One such opportunity was a day designed specifically to celebrate international and COCE students which will be done again. Implementing this group of students will make managing new programs easier.

Nothing will be drastically different from the way Commencement has been done in the past, but the new program allows Commencement to become even more special to everyone involved.

Having students become a major voice of the Commencement process through CAP will also greatly advertise the Commencement process, making the Commencement office itself more visible.

For students to be qualified to join the CAP, specifically this year, students will be selected from recommendations from student facing offices, mainly due to time constraints. CAP’s first class this year will be ten students selected from these recommendations and these students will be reached out to directly. However, this may change in upcoming years.

Some specific requirements include maintaining a cumulative 3.2 GPA since it is a leadership opportunity weaved within an academic office, remaining active within the university community, attending all of the required meetings and training, and signing a confidentiality agreement as deemed necessary since some work is done very closely with the registrar’s office.

Responsibilities would include working directly with staff workers, helping out with early morning day setup, assisting in crowd control and helping students put on their robes correctly.

Also, students with certain interests may get to fill in specific roles like project management and social media.

Students who join and get accepted into the program will get a provision for housing and extended housing; because of this, student members on the team would be able to stay to work on the actual days of commencement.

This allows students who are part of the program to not worry about leaving campus and driving back up the next day. This position is also student hourly paid.

Training sessions will include general overviews of the process and about the program. Students will be hired based on their interests for the program and by the specific roles available that they might be able to fit into, such as customer service, social media, etc.

This will be selected depending on the role that is deemed best for the students and office alike.

A desire to inspire students to become passionate about Commencement and the process itself is what led to the creation of this initiative.

“I started thinking how can we make this a more robust experience compared to what some people view a student hourly job to be? We wanted to make this experience one that would provide more opportunity for growth,” said Tierno.

Given their backgrounds and philosophy on Commencement, it was only a matter of time before they began to figure out how they could involve current students with Commencement.

For students who are interested in participating in this program, CAP could be thought of as a paid internship as it provides students a chance to put their skills to the test. It also allows students to be part of the Commencement decision making process.

Commencement will occur on May 13 and 14. For university college students, it is on Saturday, May 13, at 10 a.m. at the SNHU arena.

If grads have any questions about Commencement, they can contact the office at and they’ll be directed to the appropriate place. For any questions about the CAP program itself, contact nicole.doane@snhu. edu.

Tierno and Doane are both excited for the Commencement ceremony and the process itself

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