After being in and out of remission for more than 10 years, Ryan Craft’s mother died from breast cancer in January.
Craft, a senior finance major, will honor his mother’s memory by putting a photo of her on his graduation cap during Thursday’s commencement. His mother pushed him to strive for a better future and saw him become a better student after high school, Craft said.
“I just figured I’d make it in honor of her since she was always there all along,” he added. “Since she won’t be able to be there, at least she can be with me on my cap.”
Many Temple University seniors are participating in a nationwide college tradition and decorating their graduation caps for this week’s commencement ceremonies. Designs range from humorous sayings to personal stories and reflections.
Almas Ayaz, a senior supply chain management major, is paying tribute to Temple by having a silhouette of the Bell Tower painted on her cap alongside a quote from Michelle Obama that represents her time in college.
The quote, “We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see,” is from “Becoming,” Obama’s 2018 autobiography. Ayaz picked the quote because of her work in student leadership positions with Temple Student Government and the South Asian Students Society of Temple University, she said.
“I’ve started initiatives that I haven’t really seen the whole fruit of the labor,” she added. “So just kind of saying, in life you’re going to do things and you’re going to have an impact, but you might not always see that impact.”
Paige Hughes, a senior human development and community engagement major, decided to take a humorous approach to her cap. She put “Thank You Coffee” in the center along with a painted-on coffee stain.
Hughes is highlighting coffee because it fueled her through college, she said.
“Everyone knows no matter what time of day it is, I’m always with a cup of coffee,” Hughes added. “It always keeps me up, and it always keeps me going.”
Jaclyn McMonigle also used humor to inspire her cap design. The senior human development and community engagement major, who will receive a Bachelor of Science, put the quote, “I’m done with this B.S.,” because “it was funny but truthful,” she said.
As a first-generation college student, McMonigle is proud of her accomplishments, which she couldn’t have done without her family’s support, she said.
“They helped me by always being there for me even when I wanted to just give up,” she said. “College isn’t always for everyone, but they had faith in me that I could do it and look, here I am, a graduating senior.”
Senior bioengineering major Anthony Wanichko’s journey to graduation wasn’t easy either.
Academic advisers told Wanichko he wouldn’t be able to complete his major in four years because he took the wrong math class freshman year, he said.
But he was determined. He loaded up on 17 credits each semester to graduate on time. Wanichko decided to decorate his cap with the signatures of friends, professors and advisers who helped him throughout his time at Temple.
“I wasn’t able to do it alone,” Wanichko said. “That’s what I wanted the cap to symbolize. That these are the people who made my college career possible and helped me with the degree I’m so proud to be earning.”
Some graduating students have turned to artists on campus to design their caps for them.
Senior advertising major Morgan Pivovarnik has been decorating caps for students, ensuring the students are part of the design process. Pivovarnik is charging $15 to $20 per cap. The project is a great end to her artistic career at Temple, she said.
“I’ve taken a lot of studio classes at Tyler, and I’ve done some Temple and Philly-themed art,” she said. “So I think that the last big art project I’m doing being graduation caps is a cool way to end the year.”
Pivovarnik’s work has allowed students like Ayaz to express themselves during their final moments as Temple students.
“These are things you don’t need to play down because a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to graduate, unfortunately, or even the opportunity to go to college let alone,” Ayaz said. “To be able to do that is really cool, and you should celebrate it.”