After graduation, Jason Luke ’94 supervised Dorm Crew—the trash-disposing, bathroom-cleaning student employment program he’d worked for in college—as a stopgap before graduate school. Soon he was offered a full-time position in “Special Services.” “What that really meant was doing anything anyone else did not want to do,” he says. He cleaned carpets, refinished floors, and moved furniture, often overnight—assembling teams from nothing. Graduate school would wait. When former Commencement superintendent Allan Powers asked him to take over another team, Luke said sure, unclear on the expectations. The job: supervising 250 staffers and setting up for more than 1,000 events during Commencement week, Harvard’s busiest of the year. No written instructions existed; the responsibilities, to be met alongside his regular duties, were merely explained to him. “I’d be at meetings with people about things that I was supposed to be doing, and I had no idea what they were referring to,” he recalls. More than two decades later, Luke, now associate director of campus services, approaches his Commencement role with both excitement and exacting standards. “The students who are there, they’re only going to graduate once. People only have one fiftieth reunion, one twenty-fifth reunion, one tenth reunion,” he says. For Luke, life is all about relationships. In his office, a class of 1994 photo sits beside a shot of his daughter’s basketball team—which he coaches—and souvenirs his staff have brought him from their home countries. Relationships are why he’s co-chaired all his class reunions, and how he became one of nine classmates nominated for this year’s Commencement chief marshal. “You can have bad days, you can have good days, you can have things that go well, don’t go well,” he says. But relationships, “that’s the one thing that can be a constant in your life.”
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