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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Hat in hand, diploma in the other

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Photo by Ishika Samant
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With many Aggie’s graduations looming around the corner, emotions are high. Maybe you’re that student who ignores every “Urgent: GRADUATING SENIORS MUST READ” email, or maybe you’re a Hallmark cards sucker, fully ready for that romantic tossing-of-caps moment. Whatever the feelings, there is something all graduating students have in common: a graduation cap. Beyond the general nostalgia and anticipation of leaving Aggie student life, many graduates want their caps to tell their own stories, adding a few personal touches.

And no, embellishing graduation caps is not some TikTok or “Gen-Z” trend. With all the pomp and circumstance of graduation, more and more graduates are adding a personal touch to the ceremony. According to Cornell University, many graduates would affix peace signs to the top of their caps to protest the Vietnam War in the 1960s. 

Sociology senior Ashlyn Miller is one such creative and expressive student.

“I decided to decorate it because we weren’t allowed to at high school graduation, and I think it’s a fun way to add some customization to the plain graduation cap and gown,” Miller said. “I wanted to do something fun that had sparkle but wasn’t too overwhelming. I think it shows my personality. I am crafty, so I had a lot of fun picking out materials and decorating my cap.”

Before you get crafty with your caps, Miller said you should keep a few things in mind: including how you will wear your graduation cap before you start designing.

“Funny story. My original cap was the A&M logo, and I rhinestoned it. However, when I went to try it on, the A&M logo was facing the side of my head instead of the back,” Miller said. “So I had to get another cap and opted for a design that was not directional.” 

As a fan of some having the slight sparkle of rhinestones, Miller added a few non-self-adhesive rhinestones to keep the sparkling gems from clattering across the stage. To evade a messy, sticky situation, Miller said to avoid tacky school glue instead of fabric-specific glue. 

“I also would avoid painting directly on the cap because the inside is cardboard and will warp,” Miller said.

While Miller decorated her hat with rhinestones for that extra sparkle, some believe that it is words that are worth a thousand pictures. Pre-dental public health senior Kylee Markowsky is one such student.

“I [want] to decorate mine with a quote from my favorite book,” Markowsky says. 

Whether it is mentors, friends and family, or natural ambition — we all have something that serves as a guide in the labyrinth that college entails. 

“I have found authors have managed to encourage me throughout my life with what they have to say, just as much as my friends or family did,” Markowsky said.

Markowsky said she was that one girl who got lost in the chapters of her books while others’ noses were buried in their phones playing candy crush or fun run. When asked what books, in particular, Markowsky said books such as “Chronicles of Narnia”, The Phantom Tollbooth” and “The Book Thief” shaped her.

As many students exit the phase when Aggie crewnecks, yoga pants, crop tops and tennis skirts are everyday attire, graduation can be seriously stressful, and there is that one daunting question most soon-to-be graduates are asked, ”What are you going to do with your life?” 

Each graduate walked a different path and had a different story about their journey, from arriving at A&M to leaving with their diplomas. A graduation cap is just one way to tell a part of that story. 

Miller offers a few words of advice for discouraged and burnt-out students who may be losing sight of that triumphant ending. 

“For college students struggling to see graduation in the future, keep going. It’s OK to fail some classes, it’s OK to do a fifth year, and it’s OK to want to give up,” Miller said.“However, you’ve made it this far, and if you weren’t meant to be here, you wouldn’t have been accepted. You can do it.”

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