Ucf graduation ticket lottery
UCF graduation ‘a well-oiled machine’
By Gabrielle Russon Staff Writer
Gabriela Wolk worried about whether she might trip and fall as she practiced her UCF graduation walk at CFE Arena on Wednesday.
No heels, she already decided. Stick to flats.
“I don’t need a bloody nose on stage,” said Wolk, 21, of Merritt Island, who will graduate with an English literature and political science double major and then head off to law school.
For Wolk, among a handful of top students invited to an informal practice, it was a quiet moment in the mostly empty arena before six commencement ceremonies that start today and end Saturday, drawing thousands of family and friends to campus.
Stacks of programs rested in boxes. The chairs weren’t lined up in rows yet.
Wolk is among the nearly 8,000 students who will graduate this semester at one of the largest schools in the country.
Compare that with New College of Florida, one of the smallest schools in the Florida public university system. Its current graduation class of 180 students will fit in a single ceremony under a tent on campus overlooking Sarasota Bay.
Or Rollins College. The Winter Park private school has three ceremonies over three days to churn out about 840 graduates.
UCF organizers, who have planned the commencement ceremonies for years, said they understand the challenges of dealing with large graduating classes.
“It is really a well-oiled machine,” said Ana Petkov, director of university events.
UCF Registrar Brian Boyd added, “We’re rehearsed. That helps us out a lot.”
Each ceremony is scheduled to last no more than a crisp two hours by adhering to a tight schedule.
“We pride ourselves on that,” Petkov said.
The university, which has an overall enrollment of about 63,000, figures out which colleges have the most graduates and pairs them with the programs that have the least, to keep the events on pace.
This year, the largest number of graduates come from the College of Sciences, with about 1,500. The smallest is the eight students expected to graduate from the College of Graduate Studies.
CFE Arena can hold about 8,500 for each ceremony, and those who didn’t get tickets can watch a live stream from across the street in the alumni center. Out-of-towners can see the ceremonies online.
Each graduate gets up to five free tickets for friends and family. There’s also a lottery for extra tickets.
But in the days leading up to graduation, some people were trying to find extra seats. On Craigslist, one person was trying to sell commencement tickets for $40 a pop.
Lorena Rojas, 24, of West Palm Beach was willing to spend $20 for a ticket to get into her cousin’s graduation. Her large family was on the hunt.
“That seems like a reasonable price,” Rojas said after she posted an ad on Craigslist.
The average cost to UCF for each graduation ceremony is about $30,000 from the police presence to the parking assistants, the programs, lighting and sound in the arena, said spokesman Mark Schlueb.
The school has 17 police officers and a commander on duty at each commencement.
There also are extras such as $800 for two bagpipers to play during the two ceremonies each day
The crowd will likely empty the arena in about 15 minutes and clear off campus within 90 minutes, in time before the next graduation ceremony starts a few hours later.
“There’s a certain dance to how long it takes our campus to clear out to get ready for our next ceremony,” Petkov said.
Ucf graduation ticket lottery UCF graduation ‘a well-oiled machine’ By Gabrielle Russon Staff Writer Gabriela Wolk worried about whether she might trip and fall as she practiced her UCF