Capping It Off


There are many ways to stand out in a crowd. But few involve as much glitter and glue as the growing trend of decorating the mortarboard—the flat top of a graduation cap—as part of the commencement celebrations. To (as she quips) “put a very sparkly cherry on top” of her experiences at the U, Mercedes Maestas BS’19 hosted a graduation cap decorating party for 25 friends last year. “It was really the ‘last hurrah’ to say farewell to the chapter I was closing that day,” says Maestas (whose shiny red cap is shown above, bottom row far left).

And it’s more than just a way for loved ones to find students in a sea of black caps, according to University of Nevada, Las Vegas, researcher Sheila Bock, who studies this growing phenomenon. Some caps are whimsical, while others are profound, but most fall into categories of celebration, identity, and politics, she says. Here’s just a small selection of some of the fabulous caps seen at recent U graduations.

[Editor's note: Due to COVID-19 precautions, universitywide commencement will be held virtually on Thursday, April 30, at 6:30 p.m. As more information is made available, it will be posted on commencement.utah.edu.]

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