MAY 10, 2022 — Thousands of graduating Roadrunners celebrate earning their degrees each May and December by participating in a number of special traditions tied to the momentous occasion.
Scheduled for Friday, May 13, the UTSA Commencement Drive, a tradition that began in May 2020, will provide graduates with a memorable experience. In the spirit of San Antonio’s victory celebrations, graduates will embark on a nostalgic victory lap around the Main Campus with birds up and horns blaring. Graduates and revelers outside of San Antonio may participate by sharing a video of their car honk on social media using the hashtag #UTSAGrad22.
UTSA's spring Commencement ceremonies will be held at the Alamodome on Saturday, May 14. Graduates of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, College of Sciences and College for Health, Community and Policy will cross the stage during the first ceremony at 10 a.m. Graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, University College, College of Education and Human Development and the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design will receive their degrees during the second ceremony at 4 p.m.
Many traditions during Commencement festivities involve the accessories students would typically wear. Stoles and cords, for instance, have special meanings. Stoles are the colored sashes that students wear draped over their shoulders during the Commencement ceremony, and they each represent involvement in various activities at UTSA. Student-athletes and Honors College students receive special stoles to wear. Students can also purchase a Stole of Gratitude, which they can present after the celebration as a show of gratitude to someone whose support helped them reach this milestone.
Graduates earning degrees in construction science and management sport orange hard hats during UTSA’s Commencement ceremonies.
Commencement cords—ropes draped over the gowns—also hold a special significance. Gold honors cords are given out to cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude students. Veterans who have served on active duty in the military are eligible to wear cords that are red, white and blue.
Traditions even extend to the caps that students wear for graduation. Undergraduates wear the tassel on the right side of the cap until they’re instructed to move their tassels to the left. Master’s and doctoral students always keep their tassels to the left. Over the years, guests have taken note of the many brightly decorated mortarboards that students wear. UTSA students have embraced the tradition of sprucing up their mortarboards with individualized art and special messages to help them stand out in the crowd.
Another group of students with attention-grabbing headwear are those getting degrees in construction science and management; they wear orange hard hats.
Be on the lookout for those wearing the orange feet of Rowdy as well. Students who served as mascots during their time at UTSA don this unique footwear during graduation celebrations.
What many consider the most unique Commencement tradition, however, involves the UTSA class rings. These graduation keepsakes are literally the only ones in the entire world that spend a night at the Alamo. This tradition keeps ring-bearing Roadrunners forever connected with each other and to the history of San Antonio.
Since UTSA’s first graduation celebration in May 1976, mariachis have performed to help give a celebratory feel. Few cultural cornerstones are as synonymous with San Antonio as the ceremony-closing mariachi serenade.
UTSA’s Commencement ceremonies were traditionally held at the Convocation Center until 2013, when Commencement was moved to the Alamodome. After two virtual ceremonies in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and a spring 2021 ceremony held at various locations across the Main Campus, Commencement returned to the Alamodome in fall 2021.
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