Celebrating from home: SDSU’s virtual commencement ceremony


HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) – Today, SDSU celebrated its 2020 graduates, but instead of Frost Arena buzzing with excitement and students in caps and gowns, the campus was silent. Because of COVID-19, the university decided to host a virtual commencement ceremony.

Ten months ago, students stepped onto the SDSU campus for one last time awaiting the day they got to celebrate their college achievements.

“Every student dreams of the chance to walk across the stage and shake the president’s hand and sitting in Frost Arena and being with the thousands of people,” SDSU graduate Selene Renes said.

However, instead of walking across that stage and scanning the crowd for parents’ faces, Selene Renes and the rest of the graduates were able to sit with their families at home and watch a virtual commencement ceremony.

“So it was kind of nice to be able to actually see my grandparents’ faces and my mom’s face when I was giving speech and it was nice to be close to them,” Renes said.

Renes was a commencement speaker and was able to prerecord her speech to include in the video.

“I kind of in my speech talk a little about how SDSU isn’t just graduation. It’s all of our memories leading up to graduation and those are the things that we’re celebrating today. I mean, we have lost out on getting to physically walk across the stage, but we didn’t lose out on the four years of memories that we got leading up to graduation,” Renes said.

Dennis Hedge, the SDSU provost, says it was important for them to still recognize the 2,661 graduates today.

“We felt like during this time it provided a necessary level of recognition and celebration before this particular group goes out and begins their post graduation journey,” SDSU provost Dennis Hedge said.

And Renes’s advice for her fellow graduates is just to find whatever way you can to celebrate.

“Whether that’s sitting on your couch with your family or maybe it’s doing something like I did and actually having a party where you have food and cake and things like that. Just find a way to celebrate in whatever way you want to do,” Renes said.

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