Commencement traditions link generations

By Michelle Valigursky | Emory Report | May 8, 2013

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The 10th anniversary Candlelight Crossover ceremony on May 9 will formally launch graduating seniors into the realm of active alumni. Emory Photo/Video.

Campus graduation traditions abound at Emory, from seniors who walk by candlelight with classmates and friends, to returning alumni who don golden robes to walk the Quad during Commencement.

For Mary Regina Messier Cumbie '48N and Kerri Woodward '13C, Commencement Weekend from May 9-13 and the 168th Commencement exercises at Emory University will mark an important first for their family. The grandmother and granddaughter will proudly walk the Quad together, each in their respective caps and gowns.   

"It is so exciting for me to share this tradition with my granddaughter 65 years after my own graduation. Kerri is the first of our family's next generation to attend Emory, and now we get to share in a very special day," Cumbie says. "The Emory Alumni Association (EAA) has made it possible by honoring me as part of the Corpus Cordis Aureum."

The Corpus Cordis Aureum (CCA), or golden corps of the heart, was created to honor Emory alumni who have graduated 50 years ago or more. "The tradition represents the true cycle of our student to alumni experience," says Carol So '10C, Emory Alumni Association assistant director of student and alumni programs.

During the CCA induction ceremony, the Judson C. Ward Golden Heart Award will be awarded to Barbara Reed '57N-'79N.  Established in 2010, Jake's Golden Heart Award seeks to recognize Emory alumni who demonstrate the same values of service, generosity of spirit, and loyalty to the university embodied by Dean of Alumni Judson "Jake" Ward '33C-'36G.

Camaraderie will abound at a special Wonderful Wednesday to kick off Commencement Weekend. Then, on May 9, Atlanta Braves all-star Chipper Jones will be featured during Senior Class Day. The ceremonial Coke toast and the 10th anniversary Candlelight Crossover processional across the Houston Mill Bridge to the Miller-Ward Alumni House will formally launch graduating seniors into the realm of active alumni.

"I am unbelievably excited for Emory Commencement Weekend. While it is certainly bittersweet to see four fulfilling years in the College conclude, I have long anticipated this weekend spent with family and friends," says Woodward. 

"Knowing that my grandmother will also participate in these Emory traditions means the world to me. Her experiences at Emory are initially what drew me to this university," she says. "I am honored and overjoyed to share the Emory Commencement traditions with my grandmother and carry these Emory memories into my next phase of life."

For up-to-date event postings and invitations, stay tuned to the official Emory alumni blog The Post, the EAA's Facebook page and Twitter feed. See the full schedule of Commencement Weekend activities at www.emory.edu/commencement/schedule.