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Spotlight on Walden // May 04, 2018

The Ultimate Commencement Experience

Janet Deskins
Dr. Janet Deskins

It was a very emotional moment for Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate Janet Deskins when she arrived with her husband in Tampa, Florida for Walden University's 59th Commencement Ceremony. “It’s a super exciting opportunity, and after such a long journey, I couldn’t believe it was finally here,” she recalls. “I knew this was going to be my last college graduation, so I made sure to truly enjoy it and take in the entire experience.”

When Dr. Deskins started her Walden journey in 2015, she wasn’t sure she’d make it to commencement. “I definitely was not anticipating my husband's heart attack just one month into the program, but like all online students who juggle family and work responsibilities on top of earning a degree, I kept my focus, prayed, and pushed through-maintaining a 4.0 GPA the entire way," says Dr. Deskins, who is a practicing pastor, web designer, and business professional. “It meant everything to me that my husband and biggest supporter was able to be there with me in one of life’s most momentous occasions.”

Though her trip from Orlando to Tampa wasn’t as far as other Walden graduates’, Dr. Deskins says that when she arrived, it was like entering another world. “When we arrived at the hotel, even the room key had ‘Walden Commencement’ on it, and instantly I had my first of many souvenirs from the weekend. We experienced everything Walden offered, including getting my photo taken and having our caricature made,” she explains. “I’m serious when I say Walden knocked it out of the park between all of the activities and photo opportunities.”

The one moment of the weekend Dr. Deskins will never forget: crossing the commencement stage. “At that moment, I was full of so many emotions, I thought for sure I was going to cry,” she says. “I am a first-generation college graduate and the second doctor in my extended family. I felt very proud of myself and thankful. I wanted to hug every instructor on the stage.”

However, the best part of her commencement experience was meeting all her fellow graduates and connecting with the faculty who supported her along the way. “Online education is amazing, and it’s wonderful to know you’re not alone on the journey and that there are people all around the world just like you,” she says. “I absolutely love meeting new people; I’m the person who sees someone standing alone and walks up and engages in conversation. I also enjoyed bumping into faculty throughout the weekend. There were just so many happy graduates that I spent most of my time trying to meet as many as I could.”

Dr. Deskins met many fellow graduates while waiting in line before entering the exhibit hall for the ceremony. “The atmosphere was exciting, and everyone I saw was in great spirits,” she recalls. “Everyone was friendly and helping each other, fixing tails and getting dressed in our caps and gowns.”

There are a few tips and tricks Dr. Deskins says all graduates should know before their big day.

  • Order early. “Don’t wait until you receive an e-mail to order your cap, tam, gown, and cords,” she recommends. “As soon as your degree is conferred, place your order and have it shipped to your home if you can. That way you can avoid wrinkles and other snafus.” But, she cautions, make sure to remember to pack everything before you leave home.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. “If I was bold enough, I would have worn sneakers,” she admits. “There is a lot of walking and standing, so be sure to keep that in mind when picking out your attire.”
  • Carry a small bag. “There are no pockets in the gowns, and ladies are not allowed to take a purse with them into the ballroom,” Dr. Deskins says. She recommends a small purse or cell phone case with a strap that can be worn on a shoulder under the gown to hold a phone, hair pins, and lipstick.

“There’s something so exciting about commencement,” says Dr. Deskins. “It’s not the end; it’s truly a beginning for me, and I’m looking forward to continuing my educational journey as a faculty member in the future.”

—Jen Raider