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Commencement stories at Wake Forest University

May 4, 2010

JOB PROSPECTS LOOKING BRIGHTER FOR GRADUATING SENIORS—In another sign that the job market may be thawing, Wake Forest has seen a dramatic increase in the number of companies that have visited the campus this spring. The number of companies that have recruited in some form is up 47 percent from 2009.  The number of job interviews nearly doubled during the same time period. “Hiring needs, which had stalled because of the economy, seem to be picking back up, and we’re seeing a combination of new companies that have never visited the campus before, as well as a good group of companies that are coming back,” said Ladd Flock, Director of Career Services. He added that companies appear to be more interested in “just-in-time” hiring rather than making job decisions many months in advance. While the career office has not yet tallied the number of job offers that resulted from the campus visits, interest from companies remains high. “We’re still getting phone calls and emails from companies that have job postings right now,” Dana Hutchens, assistant director of recruiting, said. “They do realize that classes are ending, but they still want to reach out to our students.”

GRADUATING GREEN—Have you ever wondered what happens to the plastic bottles collected for recycling? This year, some 48,000 of them will be worn by Wake Forest graduates, as the university is one of the first-adopters of graduation gowns made from recycled materials.  Oak Hall Cap & Gown, the supplier, says Wake Forest is one of just over 100 institutions to purchase graduation gowns made of 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. This is the first year the alternative robes have been offered. The gown is made from fabric spun from molten plastic pellets. It takes an average of 23 bottles to make each gown. As of March 1, the company says 3.5 million plastic bottles have been reclaimed from landfills to produce the regalia. After graduation, students can choose to turn in their gowns and the material will be recycled into new fabric. For each gown purchased, the company makes a donation to the campus sustainability program. Dedee Delongpre Johnston, director of sustainability at Wake Forest, is available to talk about this new trend and why using these new gowns makes sense.

LAW STUDENT OVERCOMES ACCIDENT TO GRADUATE WITH CLASS—Amber Kirby (JD ’10) doesn’t remember the night of Oct. 16, 2009. But friends and family have told her it was foggy and damp. The third-year law student had gone home to Mount Olive, N.C., which is about halfway between Raleigh and Wilmington off Interstate 40 for fall break. She was out for a drive with a childhood friend on one of Duplin County’s back roads. She pulled up to a stop sign on an unfamiliar stretch of highway, stopped and then hit the gas. The next thing she remembers is being in the hospital. She has no recollection of the accident and little recall of the month that followed. Despite her severe injuries, which included bleeding in her brain and a partially collapsed lung, Amber will graduate this month with her class. “This is exactly where I was supposed to be,” she says about Wake Forest University School of Law. “If I was at a different school, if I was anywhere else, this would be a completely different story.”

SERVICE, SUSTAINABILITY AND SAFETY. Riding the Wake Forest campus shuttle is about to become more user-friendly thanks to three students who wanted to explore GPS programming and serve the community at the same time. The students, two graduating seniors and a sophomore, worked with computer science professor Daniel Canas to develop an iphone app to track the campus shuttle location. Commercial products with equivalent capabilities run tens of thousands of dollars. The shuttle location is updated every five seconds so students, faculty and staff know when the bus is approaching the stop. The service is likely to encourage increased ridership which means fewer cars on campus. When downtown, students will know when to head to the stop to meet the shuttle on weekend evenings. The campus shuttles have carried over 14,000 passengers in their first three months. The routes began in January.


  • Senior from North Carolina who started My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring program to help African-American high school students with college applications.
  • Religion major who is moving to Haiti to do service work after graduation. Senior on the golf team who started own golf clothing business. Wake Forest football player who is going to medical school and conducted research on intense diet/training and cardiovascular disease.
  • A Lexington, N.C. computer science major who helped develop a computer security approach using “digital ants”
  • Theater major who has a job as a costume designer for a theater company.
  • Nineteen Wake Forest graduating seniors will work with Teach for America.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

Ellen Sterner Sedeno
(214) 546-8893

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