Coordinating the pomp and circumstance

Events director Melissa Werner has made sure ASU's graduation ceremonies go off without a hitch for 20 years


Melissa Werner
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Melissa Werner has been shepherding students through commencement ceremonies for 20 years. 

And no, it never gets old.

Werner, director of University Events and Protocol at Arizona State University, revels in the high-energy atmosphere, the excitement, the proud families in the stands and the accomplishments of every student donning the maroon cap and gown. 

It takes a lot of commitment, time and energy to pull off a ceremony with many moving parts and make it a memorable event for each graduate.

Werner may not be the most noticeable person at graduation, but you'd definitely notice her absence.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

At 6 a.m. on graduation day, you will find Werner and her assistant Melissa Chavez working the floor, getting it ready for the biggest event of the semester, the universitywide commencement.

They make sure the seats are ready, the plants are in position, the microphones are placed correctly, the correct videos are loaded, the flags are posted, the band is ready, the scripts are reviewed and security is set. 

Graduate commencement begins at 9 a.m. Monday and undergraduate commencement follows at 7:30 p.m., so the two Melissas won’t be done till way after midnight. 

“Graduation is a special time, and each student should be celebrated," said Werner. "That is my goal, my team’s goal, to make graduation a special moment for each graduate and their families.” 

More: The voice of ASU graduation: Mike Wong • How to prepare for the ceremonies • Outstanding graduates

Top photo: Melissa Werner organizes the start of the fall 2018 undergraduate commencement at Wells Fargo Arena on Dec. 10, 2018.

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