News Story

Behind the Scenes: Your Diploma

May 19, 2018 — Congratulations! You’ve walked across the stage at Commencement, posed for a picture, maybe hugged your friends and family. You’re almost done — now to just pick up your diploma on Copley Lawn (or, in the event of rain, on the third floor of White-Gravenor).

With most businesses and graduate schools that require transcripts turning to online applications, your diploma may well be the only hard-copy document you keep from your time on the Hilltop. It’s important, then, that we get it right. So how does the College make sure each of our 817 graduates gets an accurate copy, down to the last Latin phrase? Here’s a behind-the-scenes look.


You may remember filling out an application to graduate online earlier this year. This application was especially particular about your name, likely more so than any other online form you’ve filled out during your time here.

That’s because we want to make sure the name read aloud at today’s ceremony — and that goes on your diploma — is recognizable to you, your family, and your friends. There’s a limit to customization, of course: We aren’t going to hand out a piece of fancy parchment with “Hoya McHoyaface” on it. But we make sure to ask, just in case you’ve changed your name since you first enrolled in classes, or you go by a middle name that we don’t have on the record.


Once we’ve made our list and checked it twice, we order the diplomas themselves. While this commemoration of your degree isn’t handwritten on sheepskin anymore, it’s still written in old-fashioned script — and, of course, in Latin. This makes proofreading more than 800 diplomas quite the endeavor.

Fortunately, the College has just the people for the job. A staff team with more than 40 years of cumulative experience — including a Latin grammar expert — examines every single page, ensuring that names, degrees, Latin phrases, and honors denotations are correct; that all necessary signatures are present; and that there’s no smudged ink.


With all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, the diplomas are ready for pickup. To avoid hundreds of students rushing one table at the same time, they first need to be sorted.

Diplomas are separated based on type of degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science), broken down by major, and re-ordered alphabetically within their majors. By the night before Commencement, 817 triple-checked diplomas sit in the White-Gravenor basement, neatly stacked and arranged as they’ll be the following day on Copley Lawn.

Whether it ends up framed on the wall of your office or packed up in a trunk of valuables, we at the College hope you always keep this small piece of the Hilltop to remember what you’ve accomplished here. Congratulations and good luck!

— Patrick Curran