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Mercer's graduation held at Five Star Stadium for the first time

Senior Vice Provost Marilyn Mindingall says the bigger space allows graduates to invite more guests

MACON, Ga. — Update, 8:25 a.m.

Spokesman for Mercer University Kyle Sears says the graduation start time was pushed back 15 minutes and will start at 8:30 a.m.

Lt. Sean Defoe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office says it's due to a mechanical car fire along I-75 South, causing a bad back up. 

Credit: Wanya Reese


In less than 24 hours, Noemi Griffin will enter the next stage of her life.

"First one graduating from college for this little family of mine, so we're all really excited," she said.

She even has family from overseas in town to celebrate.

"It'll be my mom and my dad, and then it will also be my grandma who flew in from Italy on Friday, and then my younger brother," Griffin said.

Any other year Griffin would only be able to invite three family members to the ceremony in Hawkins Arena. 

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This is the first year Mercer will have it at Five Star Stadium.

"We invite our graduates to have as many as 9 to 10 family and friends to join them, and so we would be able to accommodate them in the stadium with those numbers," Senior Vice Provost Marilyn Mindingall said.

It's starting to rain now, and it may clear up by tomorrow, but Mindingall says in case of severe weather, they'll move the ceremony to Hawkins Arena.

"Rain won't stop us, but severe weather will. Then we would go into Hawkins Arena, and we've got a whole set plan in order to do that in terms of contacting everyone early enough and to know what they're doing, and where they're doing it over in the venue as well. So, it's a double prep for us actually," she said.

With more room in the stadium for more families, Bar Manager Chasen Smith from The Brick on Hardeman Avenue says they're preparing for the numbers.

"We definitely have to get a full staff in our kitchen, prep some extra food. We have a lot of kids that actually work here from Mercer, so they'll bring a lot of families in throughout the years. We get a lot of big parties in the back, back there. It definitely helps out," he said.

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Griffin plans to take her family to eat there after graduation.

Whether it's inside or outside, she's excited either way.

"I'm like ready for it to all cap off and be done with, like tie the bow on the present," Griffin said.

Mindingall says they're planning for good weather tomorrow, but students were given three tickets each ahead of time for their visitors in case they have to move inside to Hawkins Arena.

The ceremony begins at 8:15 a.m. Monday morning.