Keene State College graduating seniors will be receiving a new gift at this year’s commencement ceremony. Gold medallions will be handed to each senior on the day of commencement before they walk to Fiske Quad. This is the first year these have been given to graduates.
The idea for the medallions began last year with discussion of not giving hoods to graduating seniors any more. KSC President Melinda Treadwell worked with student government to come to the decision that it would be better to replace that tradition with a new one, rather than not doing anything at all.
“I met with student government, talked to student listening sessions about it and through those discussions we decided a different type of tradition would be better,” Treadwell said. “Students helped in formatting this. We brought in a couple different ideas and then the student government unanimously approved and said go ahead with what we were thinking about.”
The KSC Bookstore, the President’s office and their chosen vendor, Catania Inc., all worked together to choose the final look of the medallion. According to KSC Bookstore manager Drew Nichols, the art for the medallion had to go through two or three adjustments before settling on the final one. The main component of the medallion design is the iconic KSC arches/gateway.
“As you look at it now, it’s kind of zoomed out so you get the full view with the bricks and curves. Originally the full phrase ‘Enter to learn, go forth to serve’ was on the ring but it’s now just ‘go forth to serve’ because it’s commencement; this is the end. This is the ‘go forth to serve’ moment,” Nichols said.
Commencement Coordinator Barbara Preston said including the image of the arches was also a significant decision.
“We landed on the gates because it is such an integral part of your time here. The other day there was a student in front of the gateway with her gown on and wearing her sash and one of her friends was taking her pictures. That happens all the time. Choosing the gateway to be on it was mindful and purposeful because it is something that means a lot to students here,” Preston said.
Ultimately Treadwell had the final say on the design. The medallion was also chosen as the new tradition because it is intended to be more useful to students after commencement than the original hood was. Treadwell hopes that students can use them to hang in their office or decorate their apartment. The medallions are also more sustainable and affordable, being about one-third of the cost of hoods.
“Hoods are problematic because they’re very expensive. It almost doubles the cost of the gown. They’re also not recyclable, which the rest of the gown is. That’s something that’s important to Keene State and our mission working towards zero waste,” Nichols said.
KSC intends to continue this tradition the upcoming years. The President’s office also welcomes feedback from students once they see the medallion.
“It would be nice to know what students think of it afterwards, how they feel about it and if it’s meaningful to them. The feedback we’ve had so far has been positive,” Preston said.
Commencement is on May 11 on Fiske Quad. Graduates will receive their medallion in the gym before walking. This is done so no graduates forget to bring it or lose it before the day of commencement.
“I’m excited to launch a new tradition,” Treadwell said. “It’s meaningful for me because I want the President’s office to thank the students in some way for their commitment to the college. It feels right.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at