Editor’s note, March 22, 10:15 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout.
SMU’s biannual grad fair returned to the Laura Lee Blanton building this Thursday and Friday to offer students a one-stop shop for all their graduation needs.
Vendors ranging from cap and gown company Herff Jones to the SMU bookstore had tables for students seeking graduation announcements, class rings, diploma frames and more.
Once students stopped at all the vendors, they turned in a slip allowing them to spin a wheel for an SMU-themed prize, like a poncho or luggage tag.
A new feature this year allowed to students to record shoutouts and thank-you messages to family and friends. These video recordings will play on the Jumbotron during the commencement pre-ceremony.
Kaley El-Arab, a senior graduating in May, was at the grad fair ordering her cap and gown. Before the fair, the chemistry and math double major was confused about getting tickets to commencement.
“It was nice to have everything in one place,” El-Arab said.
Over 700 graduation candidates were expected to walk through the grad fair this week, according to Todd Chiscano, director of academic ceremonies.
“We usually have a really great turnout,” Chiscano said. “I think this is a great opportunity for students to get everything they need at their fingertips.”
According to Chiscano, there are currently more than 2,300 graduation candidates this spring with many indicating that they are participating in the morning ceremony.
James Story, head manager at Flash Photography, was there taking pictures of students in their caps and gowns. Flash will be at most schools the day of graduation, but Story explained that taking photos ahead of time can be a nice backup.
“You only get one chance the day of graduation, and if you blink, that’s it,” Story said.
Taking photos at the grad fair has many advantages – you aren’t obligated to buy any photos and can wait to compare them with those taken on graduation day. You also get more one-on-one time to assure that the photos turn out well.
“It’s happened a couple of times where people get emotional and realize it’s real when they put on the cap and gown,” Story said. “They sometimes start crying.”
History major Emily Dombrowski came to the grad fair after her friends mentioned the event to her. She was also pleased to find everything that she needed to get ready for graduation in one spot.
“It makes it seem like it’s actually going to happen and that I’m not coming back to SMU next year,” Dombrowski said. “That’s a really weird feeling.”