GradFest celebrates graduating seniors

GVL / Sara Carte - Seniors attend GradFest to get their pictures taken, pick up cap and gowns, and win free prizes in the Kirkhof Center on Monday, Apr. 18, 2016.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte – Seniors attend GradFest to get their pictures taken, pick up cap and gowns, and win free prizes in the Kirkhof Center on Monday, Apr. 18, 2016.

Drew Howard

HEADLINE: GradFest celebrates graduating seniors

AUTHOR: Drew Howard

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Grand Valley State University has more than 100,000 alumni spread out across all 50 states of the U.S. That number is about to get bigger when this year’s group of graduates take the commencement ceremony stage on April 30.

In an effort to honor the work of these soon-to-be graduates, multiple GVSU departments came together to host the 2016 GradFest from April 18-21.

“(GradFest) is basically a festival where you can come and celebrate the end of the year,” said Krashawn McElveen, alumni relations assistant. “Students can come and pick up their graduation tickets, take a survey through career services, as well as pick up their caps and gowns. We just try to make it a fun exit event.”

All graduating students are required to attend GradFest in order to receive up to six tickets for the 2016 commencement ceremony. However, students were encouraged to stay and participate in a variety of activities and services.

With the help of the University Bookstore, caps and gowns for bachelor’s and master’s programs were available for purchase upon entering the event.

Additionally, students were given the opportunity to pose for a professional photographer in their cap and gown outfits alone or with friends. Photos were available for purchase for $1 at GradFest or online at Heather Dixon Photography.

For those looking to do something special for their graduation, GradFest included tables featuring class rings, diploma frames and custom graduation announcements for sale.

Going beyond graduation, GVSU’s financial aid office hosted a table at GradFest helping inform graduates on how they can pay back their college loans.

“I’m here to talk about financial aid and what the process looks like for students who are discontinuing their education and those are continuing,” said Steven Eleazer, financial aid counselor. “For those who are discontinuing, I’m kind of talking about exit counseling and repaying and what that repaying process looks like. And for graduate students, we’re reminding them that we’re help to help them in the financial aid office.”

GradFest also included a “Graduate Studies” table. Here, students could learn about the 36 graduate programs available at GVSU while also speaking with a Graduate School representative.

McElveen added that GradFest is a great way to recognize the accomplishments of all those graduating.

“It’s kind of like your grand finale for being here, so it’s important we take a moment to recognize your accomplishments throughout your time here at GVSU,” she said. “So this is a way in one space to recognize all of the good things that have happened here.”

GradFest will continue on April 21 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall, located inside the DeVos Center on GVSU’s Pew Campus.

The 2016 commencement ceremonies are set to take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Van Andel Arena, located in Grand Rapids. For those unable to attend GradFest, commencement tickets can still be acquired through the Dean of Students Office.

For more information about this year’s commencement, visit