Graduates get creative decorating mortarboard caps.

Author:Harpaz, Beth J.

Byline: Beth J. Harpaz

It's hard to stand out at graduation when dozens, hundreds or even thousands of your classmates are dressed in identical caps and gowns.

But some students individualize their appearance by decorating their mortarboards. Designs range from a simple lettered message like "Thanks, Mom and Dad!'' to an elaborate craft project with images, glitter or 3-D constructions. Other students decorate caps with school logos, or fraternity or sorority letters.

At the University of Texas at Dallas last year, Laurel Mohrman had a simple message on her cap: "DEBT FREE.''

A 2014 Lehigh University grad, Lisa Glover, attached a miniature 3-D dinosaur to her cap; Glover launched a business called KitRex after graduating, selling kits to make paper dinosaurs.

Nicole Malli, a senior at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, wants to make sure her cap photographs well when she graduates May 17 because she's a commencement speaker. She's been looking on Pinterest for inspiration, and will probably use a pearl design because pearls are the official gemstone of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.

Ali Boden, who is getting her degree in sustainability and business from Arizona State in Tempe, will be taking a trip to Europe after graduation and hopes it's the first of many trips to see the world. She plans to decorate her cap with a map of the world and a phrase "along the lines of 'The world awaits,' '' she said. She's been going to Michael's, the craft supply store, to figure out the best materials for lettering.

ASU even has a contest to recognize the best-decorated mortarboards.

Ruth Lauture is graduating from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, with a degree in marketing, "so my cap is going to say, 'I mean business.' Something simple, but really meaningful.'' The word "mean'' will be in pink, partly to help her mom pick her out from the crowd.

Marc Goldberg's mom had such a hard time finding him at his commencement from Indiana University in 1997 that it inspired...

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