Saber and Scroll is pleased to present a few words from Guy Williams, Chapter President, concerning American Public University 2016 Commencement activities.
We enjoyed a fantastic weekend at the Gaylord National Convention Center located in National Harbor Maryland. Apart from the great weather, we enjoyed incredible fellowship with newly minted graduates, faculty members, fellow university ambassadors and family members. We began our day with a joint meeting of the Saber and Scroll Club (S&S Club) and the Historical Studies Honor Society (HSHS) in the Chesapeake B Conference Room. Approximately twelve members showed up for our meeting and we discussed our current standings with the Chapter Standards Program, the way ahead for the Saber and Scroll Journal, upcoming elections for the S&S Club, Lew’s vision for the HSHS and the publications the HSHS will likely produce in the future. We congratulated our recent graduates and most importantly, we recognized our faculty advisor, Emily Herff, for winning the Faculty Advisor of the year award. We even managed to pose for a group photo with Jake!
After our meeting, we travelled next door to the Potomac Room C/D for our annual alumni rally. Each of the student organizations set up a table to highlight their activities and presence within the APUS virtual campus and online with social media. The room maintained a constant buzz as new and old alumni toured the room and Daniella from APUS kept the crowd excited as the emcee for the activities. Alumni participated in contests and activities to win prizes throughout the rally. During this time, I engaged Dr. Hines (the Director of History at APUS) in a discussion about the way ahead for the history department. Dr. Hines relayed an impressive statistic early in our conversation about the size of the student body within the history department at APUS. We count over 4,000 students enrolled in our History and Military History Program at APUS. The next university that approaches the scope of our History Department is UCLA with 1500 students. This speaks volumes for both the popularity of the department and the broad spectrum of degree paths available to prospective students wishing to study History with APUS. Additionally, our school boasts an incredible faculty within the History Department. Dr. Hines went on to describe the grueling schedule he and other program chairs maintained to tailor the various courses within their respective departments. Our new University President, Dr. Karan Powell, stopped by our table to welcome us and to thank us for our efforts. We look forward to Dr. Powell’s leadership as she assumes office on 1 July 2016.
After completing the Alumni Rally, we travelled next door to the Welcome Reception in the Potomac A/B Rooms for a great networking opportunity and a tasty beverage or two along with some delicious hors d'oeuvres. Faculty and administration officials toured the room talking with new graduates and family members to discuss their experience as students within APUS and their plans for the future. Perhaps the greatest opportunities occurred with the graduates themselves as they met and discussed employment opportunities, career paths, and future goals. The feelings of pride, sense of accomplishment, excitement and relief washed through the room as many shared their experience and discussed what next after this important milestone in their lives.
I joined some our fellow University Ambassadors at the Public House after our activities at the Gaylord to both welcome our new Ambassadors and to help film a few promotional videos for the school. Of course, the phrase University Ambassador is synonymous with the incomparable Cindy Atkins. Cindy is the Senior Manager for the Community Engagement Team and is indefatigable with her support to the school and her encouragement for our University Ambassadors. Cindy assembled a lavish spread and I enjoyed the conversations I had with fellow ambassadors and the opportunity to promote our school. The University Ambassador program comprises a select group of current students and alumni that epitomize the best in academic accomplishments and professional achievements within their career fields. A special thanks to Cindy for organizing such a wonderful event.
Once we completed our Ambassador Program Reception, we remained at the Public House to share some lofty thoughts and some incredible stories with fellow history enthusiasts and friends. Our table consisted of Lew Taylor (President of the HSHS), Michael Majercyzk (Editor for S&S Journal), Emily and Steve Herff (Our very own faculty advisor), Dr. Richard Hines (History Department Director) and your author Guy Williams (President of the S&S) and my wife Shelley Williams. What a fantastic evening! I really enjoyed meeting Emily and Steve. We shared many things and made some plans for dining in Portland, OR. Michael is a fellow Romeaphile and we enjoyed trading ideas for an upcoming article for the S&S Journal. Ben Sorensen even managed to come along via texting and stumped me with a Greek inscription on sling bullet that translated to mean, “Catch.” Well played Ben and I will return the favor with a Lingua Latin inscription in the future. All too soon, we elected to return to the hotel and end our evening’s activities to prepare for the commencement ceremony the following morning. Although we maintained a busy schedule throughout the day, we really enjoyed our time and the fellowship we shared.
Saturday morning arrived with a glorious sunrise that beamed in through the huge glass front of the atrium at the Gaylord Convention Center. I cannot think of better way to eat breakfast than one at sunrise as you watch graduates in their finery scramble to commencement and begin the pomp and circumstance that marks the incredible day of commencement. I highly recommend the experience of attending the commencement ceremony when you graduate and complete your studies. While everyone experiences a certain thrill and sense of accomplishment when your diploma arrives in the mail, nothing compares to walking across the stage in front of thousands of people when the narrator calls your name and you shake the hand of the President of APUS. The online medium cannot replicate the tangible experience of commencement and the experience is a memory that you will always cherish. This marks the fifth commencement that I have attended and I enjoyed every one. You can always reorder a lost diploma or re-watch a video of commencement, but you can only walk across the stage once and enjoy your day in the sun. Make some memories and attend your graduation if possible. Remember, the only obstacle between earning your degree and walking across that stage is you. As the ancient Roman poet Horace wrote, “Sapere aude” (dare to be wise). You will never regret earning the knowledge and wisdom you gained from following your degree path.
Saber and Scroll President