This Year’s Commencement Shatters Attendance Record

A record-breaking crowd of approximately 8,000 graduates and guests attended this year’s undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, held June 14 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

Commencement 2014

American Public University System’s Student and Alumni Affairs department and nearly 100 volunteers organized and hosted the three-day event that included ceremonies for both graduate and undergraduate students. Provost Dr. Karan Powell presided as master of ceremonies and President Dr. Wallace Boston addressed the Class of 2014 and their guests.

Also addressing the audiences were student honors speakers, Eleanor Morgan and John Persinger, and keynote speakers General (Ret.) Keith Alexander and Brigadier General (Ret.) John C. (Chris) Inglis. Faculty Director Suzanne Minarcine and university ambassador Thomas Rasbach received the James P. Etter Award for Creativity and Innovation, which recognizes members of the APUS community for their inventive and dedicated work.

Graduates travelled from countries as far away as Cambodia, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, and Afghanistan to attend the annual event. All branches of the U.S. armed forces were represented, and the Manassas City, Va., Police Department Honor Guard presented colors. Those unable to attend commencement in person were invited to submit a video congratulating their classmates and observe the ceremonies via a live-streaming video feed.

On June 13, the day before commencement, graduates and their families, as well as university faculty and staff, participated in the annual commencement service project. Sponsored by the university’s Golden Key International Honour Society chapter and the Student Veterans of America chapter—attendees collaborated with Stop Hunger Now to assemble more than 15,000 meal packages that were used to support developmental programs and save lives in developing countries around the world.

Later that day, graduates were invited to participate in student and alumni organization meetings. Many chapters held annual meetings in conjunction with commencement weekend, where they presented awards and inducted new members. Chapter standards awards were presented to Pi Gamma Mu (Chapter of the Year), Guy Williams (Excellence in Service), and Gina Schell (Outstanding Student Leadership).

Additionally, the National Society for Collegiate Scholars hosted an officer recognition ceremony; the American Society of Transportation and Logistics conducted a certification ceremony; and the Golden Key International Honour Society student chapter hosted a new member recognition ceremony and an honorary member induction, as well as awarded a $500 Excellence in Service scholarship to Hamilton Jackson.

The Class of 2014 also attended the Alumni Welcome Rally, a high-energy event that included games, giveaways, and information on the many benefits and services available to the APUS community. The Welcome Rally’s highlight: the introduction of the mascots! Later, at the more formal Welcome Reception, more than 1,000 graduates, guests, faculty, and staff members enjoyed celebrating, networking, and sharing food and drink.

The morning of commencement, the annual Academic Awards Ceremony and Breakfast honored the recipients of the Academic Scholar, Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Alumni, and Faculty Anniversary Awards.

Congratulations to all the 2014 graduates. We hope your commencement weekend was as memorable for you as it was for us. Photos from all the weekend’s events are available for viewing online. We encourage you and your families to share your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

If you’re interesting in learning more about this year’s commencement ceremony or have questions about future ceremonies, please contact us at

Contributed by Tracee Figueiredo & Stephanie Matro | Student & Alumni Affairs

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