(Dec. 10, 2018) -- Each May and December, thousands of Roadrunners, along with their families and friends, gather in downtown San Antonio at the Alamodome for UTSA Commencement ceremonies. As they celebrate earning their degrees, these graduates are participating in a number of special traditions tied to the momentous occasion.
There are many traditions involving the accessories students wear as they cross the stage. The stoles and cords draped over students' shoulders have special meanings. Stoles are the colored sashes that students wear draped over their shoulders. Stoles represent involvement in different activities at UTSA. For example, student-athletes are given stoles to wear. Honors College students receive special stoles at the Stole and Laurel Ceremony, which takes place before Commencement. Students can also purchase a Stole of Gratitude, which they can present after the ceremony as a show of gratitude to someone whose support helped the student reach this milestone. Commencement cords, ropes draped over the gowns, also have special meanings. Gold honors cords are given out to Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude students. Students who have served on active duty in the military are eligible to wear red, white and blue Veterans Honors Cords.
>> Discover more information about UTSA Commencement including where to take the best photos in your cap and gown.
There are also traditions related to the caps students wear to Commencement. For undergraduates, the tassel is worn on the right side of the cap until the end of the ceremony, when students are instructed to move the tassels to the left side. Master’s and Doctoral graduates keep their tassels to the left for the whole ceremony. Guests attending the ceremony will notice that many of the mortarboards students wear are brightly decorated. UTSA students have embraced the tradition of decorating their mortarboards with art and special messages to help them stand out in the crowd. Another group of students with attention-grabbing headwear at the commencement ceremony are those getting degrees in Construction Science and Management; they wear special orange hard hats.
While most students cross the stage wearing the recommended dark shoes, a select few will be wearing the orange feet of Rowdy the Roadrunner. Students who served as mascots during their time at UTSA get to wear the feet at Commencement.
Another unique tradition involves the UTSA class rings that many graduates wear. All UTSA rings spend a night at the Alamo to connect them to the history of San Antonio.
Since UTSA’s first commencement ceremony in May of 1976, mariachis have performed to help give the ceremony a celebratory feel. The ceremonies have been held at the Alamodome since 2013, and since then pyrotechnics and streamers have also been part of the show. These traditions help to celebrate all the accomplishments of the graduating Roadrunners.
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