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Appalachian’s Spring 2019 Commencement This Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11

More than 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their degrees as Appalachian State University holds commencement. Six ceremonies will take place.

Friday, May 10, 2019
  • 11 a.m. — Reich College of Education in Holmes Convocation Center (Processional begins at 10:45**)
  • 2 p.m. — Hayes School of Music in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall (Processional begins at 1:45**)
  • 5 p.m. — Beaver College of Health Sciences in Holmes Convocation Center (Processional begins at 4:45**)
Saturday, May 11, 2019
  • 9 a.m. — College of Fine and Applied Arts in Holmes Convocation Center (Processional begins at 8:45**)
  • 1 p.m. — Walker College of Business in Holmes Convocation Center (Processional begins at 12:45**)
  • 5 p.m. — College of Arts and Sciences in Holmes Convocation Center (Processional begins at 4:45**)

*Graduate students will attend the college ceremony represented by their major field of study.

**Each commencement ceremony will be preceded by a processional of the students, faculty and platform party. The processional will begin 15 minutes prior to the ceremony start times listed above.


AppTV will be streaming Spring 2019 commencement ceremonies on this page (via Facebook Live) and will broadcast live on Charter Cable ch. 198 and SkyBest ch. 20/1020.

Maps to Locations


Parking and shuttle service is available in the Peacock Hall Circle, Stadium and Hill Street parking lots. Shuttle buses will transport to and from these lots before and after the ceremony. Additional parking is available in the Rivers Street Parking Deck (#31), but will not include shuttle service. Please follow the yellow event parking signs on campus. A map of parking locations is also available to illustrate the locations of the parking lots (in orange). The Holmes Convocation Center can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner (#34).

Parking for individuals with disabilities will be available in the lot adjacent to the Holmes Convocation Center. Traffic control personnel will be at the intersection of Rivers and Hill streets to direct persons with disability placards displayed to the appropriate parking area.

It is suggested that you are parked at least 45 minutes before commencement is scheduled to begin to allow you enough time to get from the parking lot to the Convocation Center and find seating. While every effort is made to ensure timely arrival and departure of shuttle buses between the Convocation Center and the parking lots, please be sure you have appropriate dress, footwear and umbrellas in the event of inclement weather.

Featured speakers

Reich College of Education
Carmen Gray, of Columbus, Georgia, is a graduate of Georgia Southern University, where she earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Arabic. Her passion for people and social justice brought her to Appalachian’s marriage and family therapy program, where she is encouraged to bring her full self into the therapy room. While at Appalachian, she has worked as a residence hall director for University Housing and has had the privilege of serving on the leadership team for the People of Color Affinity Group, which provides a space for resident assistants of color who work on Appalachian’s campus to seek guidance and build community. In the fall, Gray will attend Kansas State University, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in couple and family therapy.

Alex Trejo-Sanchez is from Zimapan Hidalgo, Mexico, and grew up in Lincolnton. He holds a dual undergraduate degree in special education and psychology. After graduating, he will continue his education at Appalachian, pursuing a master’s degree in special education with a concentration in specific learning disabilities, emotional behavior disorder and autism spectrum disorder. This academic year, he presented research on “How to Develop Cultural Competence in Light of the Changing Demographics of NC Schools” at the NC CEC 32nd Annual Conference. He has served as president of SDAP Appalachian Advocates and as the alumni affairs liaison as a member of the Appalachian Student Ambassadors.

Hayes School of Music
Dr. Angela Myles Beeching is a music career coach and the author of “Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music.” She is the former director of career and entrepreneurship programs at the Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University and New England Conservatory of Music, and her guest speaking has taken her across the U.S. and to Oslo, Tokyo, London, Vienna, Beijing and Helsinki. A Fulbright Scholar, Beeching holds a doctorate in cello performance from Stony Brook University and maintains a thriving consulting practice, helping individuals, ensembles and organizations facilitate change. She has conducted career development workshops for students and faculty in the Hayes School of Music, a project supported by the Appalachian State University Parents Fund.
Beaver College of Health Sciences
Kristin Marie Agee, of Belmont, holds a B.S. in communication sciences and disorders from Appalachian and will be receiving an M.S. in speech-language pathology. While at Appalachian, she served as president of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and vice president of community relations for the Panhellenic Council, and held several leadership roles as a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. In May 2017, she was named as one of Appalachian’s Leaders of Distinction by the Department of Student Engagement and Leadership. She is a recipient of the Hillery H. Rink Jr. Scottish Rite Graduate Scholarship for Speech-Language Pathology and played an instrumental role in planning the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ first hooding ceremony for the speech-language pathology graduates. She recently completed an internship with Atrium Health Cleveland and, after graduating, she plans to complete her clinical fellowship year in a medical-based setting.

Vanna Lorraine Labi was born in the mountains of the Philippines and raised in the mountains of Candler. She is receiving a B.S. in public health with a minor in general studies. While at Appalachian, she assisted faculty in various research projects and was awarded a grant through the Clinton Global Initiative University to develop a fall prevention project utilizing community health workers. She also served on the executive board of the Public Health Club and was employed as the director’s assistant for Appalachian’s Office of Research, as well as a pharmacy technician for Watauga Medical Center. Following graduation, she will attend the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health to earn a Master of Public Health. Afterward, she plans to pursue a medical degree to serve as a physician and public health advocate in rural Appalachia.

Austin William Lubkemann, of Boone, is graduating with university and departmental honors, earning a B.S. in exercise science with a concentration in clinical exercise physiology, as well as minors in biology and chemistry. As an undergraduate, he served as an Appalachian Student Ambassador, volunteered for University Athletics, and coached and mentored multiple teams for the High Country Soccer Association. Additionally, he served as an undergraduate research assistant for Appalachian’s Vascular Biology and Autonomic Studies Laboratory under the direction of his mentor, Dr. Scott Collier. During summer 2018, he interned at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine in the field of maternal-fetal medicine, completing a research study examining congenital cardiac defect mechanisms that was selected for publication and presentation by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in February. He will attend medical school in the fall.

College of Fine and Applied Arts
Roy Dale Cox, of Birmingham, Alabama, is graduating with a B.A. in theatre arts with a concentration in performance and a B.A. in political science. While at Appalachian, Cox has had the opportunity to work professionally in other states, pilot an initiative to raise money to keep the arts alive at Watauga High School, share his talents in productions by the Department of Theatre and Dance and direct “y(OUR) Story” — an original production that focuses on the importance of talking about mental health. He was recently inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, WE CAN, the Black Student Association and Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society. After graduating, he plans to work with his agent to continue auditioning for acting opportunities on the stage and screen to further his career as an actor.

Chris Stevens was born and raised in Davison, Michigan. After studying physics at Michigan State University, he served five years active duty in the United States Navy, receiving numerous awards as well as an honorable discharge. After learning about Appalachian State University’s appropriate technology graduate program, he immediately applied, desiring to study renewable energy with a heavy emphasis on practical application. After graduating, he will continue working at Carolina Solar Services, helping oversee its operations department. In his free time, he volunteers as the sustainable food truck certification coordinator with Don’t Waste Durham and enjoys spending time with his wife and two pets.

Walker College of Business
Michelle Jeanniton-Garrett is originally from New York and moved to Indian Trail in 2006. She is married to Spencer R. Garrett, and they have three children: Michael, Tracie and Morgan. Jeanniton-Garrett graduates from Appalachian with a BSBA in management. As a nontraditional student, she has worked in the business world for over 20 years in a variety of management roles in companies ranging from the toy industry, manufacturing, transportation and software development. After graduating, she will continue her education at Appalachian by pursing an MBA.

Maggie King, of Hendersonville, is graduating from Appalachian with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While attending Appalachian, she has served as president of the Appalachian Student Ambassadors, a program leader for the Martha Guy Summer Institute and a mentor through Western Youth Network. She has also completed internships with Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and Fortive Corp. After graduating, she will complete an internship at Elliot Davis in Greenville, South Carolina, and then attend Clemson University to pursue her Master of Professional Accountancy.

Todd Parsons, of Cornelius, is a 2008 graduate of Appalachian’s Walker College of Business with dual majors in economics and marketing. He is graduating with honors from Appalachian’s distance education program with a Master of Business Administration. While pursuing his graduate degree at Appalachian, he was elected into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society and received the Top Student Award for his class. He plans to continue to grow his career at Ingersoll Rand, where he has worked full time while completing his graduate degree.

College of Arts and Sciences
Samantha J. Malone, of Cary, is graduating from Appalachian with university honors, receiving her B.A. in biology with a minor in chemistry. During her time at Appalachian, she has been involved with several local service organizations: She has worked with the Community Care Clinic as an intake volunteer and has served as a mentor to a local middle school student through Western Youth Network. Additionally, she has worked as an organic chemistry research assistant under the guidance of Dr. Nicholas Shaw and recently defended her Honors thesis titled “Nano-Reactor-Facilitated Synthesis of Dipeptides.” She has been an active member of Phi Chi Pre-Medical Honors Society and plans to apply to medical school after graduating, pursuing either a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Eventually, she hopes to return to Appalachia as a primary care physician and work with medically underserved communities.

Michelle Layne Melton, of Annapolis, Maryland, is graduating from Appalachian with an M.S. in computer science. She holds an A.A. from Anne Arundel Community College and a B.S. from the University of Baltimore, both summa cum laude in business administration and marketing. She spent several years working full time in marketing, advertising and graphic design while also actively pursuing her hobby of rock climbing. After meeting her husband at a climbing competition in Boone, the couple traveled the country exploring climbing areas before settling here. She eventually came to work at Appalachian, where her interest in web development and programming grew, motivating her to begin the computer science graduate program. Highlights of her academic career include the continuance of a 4.0 GPA and designing and developing the first open source Amazon Alexa skill for AsULearn as her thesis project. After graduating, she plans to continue working as a web developer and programmer for Appalachian’s Learning Technology Services.

Toronto J. Thomas, of Atlanta, Georgia, is graduating from Appalachian with an MPA with a concentration in public management. He is a 2017 graduate of the university’s B.S. in health promotions program. During his time at Appalachian, he was a four-year letterman in varsity football and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. He was also a valued part of the community, volunteering with the Hunger and Health Coalition and helping with the local Boys to Men youth group. He has interned with the City of Decatur, Georgia, for former City Manager Peggy Merriss. He currently serves as the graduate assistant for Appalachian’s athletic administration staff, handling budgeting, student development, donor relations and game day operations. After graduating, he plans to stay on the East Coast and pursue a career in sports administration.

About Appalachian State University

As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

About Academic Regalia

The tradition of academic costumes probably originated in the traditions and necessities of the Middle Ages, when people dressed in keeping with their class and for their needs. Warm cloaks and hoods were needed because many of the buildings where scholars taught were cold. From the various traditions that grew up surrounding academic costumes, a code was established and subscribed to in 1894 by most universities and colleges in the United States. Now that academic costumes are prescribed, audiences can identify the institutions awarding degrees, the nature of the degrees and the faculties awarding them.

The Bachelor of Arts gown is black, closed in front with long pointed sleeves. The square Oxford cap and tassel are black. The bachelor’s hood is rarely worn.

The Master of Arts gown is black with long closed sleeves and a short slit near the elbow to free the hand and forearm. The gown is frequently worn open but may be worn closed. Both cap and tassel are black.

The doctor’s gown, usually also black, is worn open or closed, and has velvet panels five inches wide extending down the front edge to the bottom and three horizontal bars on each sleeve. Panels and bars are often black but may be a color indicating the faculty granting the degree. The doctor’s costume also includes the square Oxford cap with a gold tassel worn on the left side.

Hoods show the greatest degree of symbolism. Hoods are black with velvet borders in the color of the faculty in which the degree is granted. Thus, for the B.A. the border is white; for the B.S. it is golden yellow; for the B.D., purple; and so on for all faculties. The lining of the hood is silk in the colors of the institution granting the degree.

The bachelor’s hood is three feet long, with a two-inch velvet border; the master’s is three and one half feet long, with a three-inch velvet border. The doctor’s hood is four feet long, with a five-inch velvet border.

About The Mace

The Appalachian State University mace is carried by a senior faculty member in all academic processions. Traditionally, the mace bearer precedes the chancellor of an institution, both upon entering and leaving a ceremony. The mace serves as a symbol of authority just as it did during the Middle Ages, when a mace bearer accompanied an official taking office or opening court.

The Appalachian mace symbolizes the university’s mountain heritage, the rustic location and the sophistication of an emerging, national leader in higher education. Its design, as a walking stick with a base constructed of roughhewn log and finished molding, is appropriate to the natural environment of the area. At the top of the mace is a soaring, red-tailed hawk, native to the area. The hawk symbolizes power, authority, as well as the empowerment of education. The talons are grasping a sphere containing two quartz crystals. The first crystal represents the global nature of the university, its educational programs, alumni and students. The second quartz crystal within the sphere is a reproduction of Grandfather Mountain.

The letters ASU reliefed within the pine cone are done in black enamel and are gold plated. The various bands represent the flora and fauna native to the area. The black walnut, one of the strongest of woods, was used to symbolize the staying power of the university.

The mace was constructed by Carolina Bronze, of Asheville. Fittingly, two Appalachian students and an Appalachian graduate were involved in the production. It was commissioned by the Appalachian Alumni Association in 1994.

About The Medallion

As symbols of events and affiliation, medallions date back to antiquity. In academic regalia, the use of medallions is traced to religious orders of the Middle Ages, when a number of orders had as a badge an oval medallion. Since many orders, societies and universities utilized in their medallion designs the circle, star, oval or cross, detailed artwork in the center of the medallion was adopted to differentiate the medallions. Colleges and universities have traditionally used both ceremonial and commemorative medallions. As part of the 95th anniversary of Appalachian State University, a commemorative medallion was commissioned in 1994 and is worn by the chancellor on ceremonial occasions.

About the International ‘Green Ribbon’ Graduation Pledge

Congratulations and many thanks to all 2019 graduates who have committed to the Graduation Pledge, as denoted by those wearing green ribbons.

“I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences, and the civic and community responsibilities, of any job or career I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”

Are you now an alumnus or alumna? Alumni can still take the Graduation Pledge.