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Engage with Emory Commencement as a volunteer

By Kimber Williams | Emory Report | April 2, 2014

Commencement at Emory is more than a celebration of academic achievement — for Emory employees, it's also a chance to take part in a longstanding tradition of volunteer service.

This month, Emory staff are invited to participate in Emory's tradition of service to the graduating class, their families and guests by volunteering to help at the May 12 Commencement exercises.

Each year, more than 250 staff members from across campus step forward to assist with events surrounding Emory's Commencement ceremony, says Michael Kloss, executive director of the Office of University Events.

"Even if your daily job duties rarely intersect with campus life or parent interactions this is your chance engage in the emotion and pageantry that surround Emory's Commencement exercises, and to make a difference in the lives of many," says Kloss.

From answering visitors' questions to helping direct latecomers, staff members will find multiple opportunities to serve at one or more Commencement events. "There's a job for everyone," Kloss adds.

The first service opportunity will be Wednesday, May 7, with Emory's annual "Chair Rodeo," where 14,000 chairs are set up and tied together in carefully aligned rows that stretch across the Quadrangle. The rodeo event offers start times at both 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. Registered volunteers will qualify for a gift card drawing and be provided a free lunch. Registration is limited to the first 100 volunteers.

Opportunities to help continue throughout the weekend with a "Mini Chair Rodeo" at McDonough Field, which will house overflow visitors, the Baccalaureate Service on Sunday morning, May 11 — which is also Mother's Day — and behind-the-scenes preparations for the Monday, May 12 Commencement ceremony, when thousands of guests arrive on campus to salute the class of 2014.

Volunteer assignments typically focus on ensuring the safety and comfort of guests — many of whom will be visiting the Emory campus for the first time, Kloss notes.

Campus Ambassadors help smooth the way, standing out to newcomers in their iconic straw hat as they offer directions and answer questions. Ushers offer assistance in the general and special-needs seating areas. Additional volunteers serve at the information booth, program table, and Coca-Cola distribution kiosks to assure that everyone stays both informed and hydrated.

Volunteer training is mandatory and will be offered at one of two orientation sessions: Wednesday, April 30 at 3 p.m. and Friday, May 2 at 10 a.m. New information is introduced every year, so even longtime volunteers are asked to attend a training session, says Kloss.

Those interested in helping are encouraged to discuss volunteering with their supervisors and are invited to register online or contact University Events at commencement@emory.edu for more information.