CSU Holds Special Graduation Ceremony for Student-Athletes

COLUMBUS, Ga. --- Columbus State University held a special graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon for seven student-athletes who might not be able to participate in the university’s regular ceremonies because they will be competing in post-season tournaments.

CSU’s graduation ceremonies will be held on Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13. If things go as planned, CSU’s baseball team will be competing that weekend in their conference championship tournament, and CSU’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will be in Orlando in the NCAA Round of 16. It will be the Lady Cougars’ sixth straight appearance in the Round of 16 and the men’s first appearance since 2014.

When Director of Athletics Todd Reeser heard about the conflict, he and President Chris Markwood quickly huddled and found some free time this week when they could honor the student-athletes.

“This is a recognition of the ultimate of victories for these student-athletes,” Reeser said. “We did not want them to miss graduation. We wanted them to feel special.”

The ceremony was held in the Lumpkin Center, which will host CSU’s regular graduations later this month. The students wore caps and gowns and the graduation march music played from a nearby computer. The president and other senior administrators wore full academic regalia. They even had a commencement speaker: the 2016 Muscogee County School District Teacher of the Year, Stefan Lawrence. Lawrence is a two-time graduate of Columbus State University and used to be a starting guard on the CSU basketball team.

“We are so proud of our graduates and thankful you could be here today,” Markwood told the graduates, who were being watched by a room full of parents, coaches, friends and administrators. “One of the things I think is so special about graduation is that while it is an individual effort, it is also a team accomplishment. That is even more true today.”