As she prepared to walk across the stage on Wednesday afternoon at Towson University’s SECU arena, Mare Kemp thought back to her freshman year, the first graduation she ever worked as a marshal.
“I remembered my freshman year watching people walk across the stage, thinking someday it would be me,” she said.
On Wednesday, it was: Kemp’s 37th graduation ceremony was her own.
“It was really exciting,” said Kemp, 21, a Towson native who grew up in the Loch Raven area and attended the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology.
Kemp, a family and human services major, said she became a graduation marshal after “blindly signing up for it” while working in the SECU arena box office her freshman year. The paying job involved leading graduating students through the back hallways of the arena, guiding them to their seats, showing them where to go before walking across the stage and, when necessary, fixing their robes and hats, she said.
“We used to joke it’s like a glorified line leader,” Kemp said. “You lead everyone in, make sure the graduates know what’s happening, answer questions and make sure they’re feeling comfortable.”
In her sophomore year, Kemp said, someone tried to pull her out of the line, thinking she was a graduate who neglected to wear her cap and gown.
Towson University’s different colleges graduate in separate ceremonies, for a total of six graduations each semester, she said.
Kemp said working so many graduation ceremonies allowed her to see the progression of university presidents — three in her time — and graduation speeches, a window into how the school has changed over the years. Today, she said, she sees Towson University as not only larger, but more student-focused.
“I loved [President Kim Schatzel’s] remarks at the end, that it’s more about how you get there than where you go,” Kemp said of her graduation ceremony.
After graduation, Kemp said that starting in July she will spend a year traveling around the country as a chapter development consultant for her sorority, Tri Delta.
After that, Kemp plans to go to graduate school in higher education student affairs, a career path that one day could take her right back to Towson, she said.