SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – With over 500 students graduating in the class of 2020, the University of Sioux Falls is doing some serious out of the box thinking to celebrate their achievement.
At first, we didn’t know it was an ending,” Class of 2020 Senior Emily Wieczorek said.
Wieczorek recalls the emotions during the final months leading up to graduation.
“It’s hard to see now, I think, for a lot of people. I think they’re just very… heartbroken, and confused as to what this means for them,” Wieczorek said
For USF President Dr. Brett Bradfield, it meant that he and his administration we’re going to have to deliver something special.
“We filmed the components of a virtual graduation. I did what I call a ‘quasi-commencement address,’ it’s probably 8 to 10 minutes,” Dr. Bradfield said.
It will broadcast right in their own home. It will keep much of the ceremony’s traditions. That includes speeches from other key staff and announcing awards.
“We felt like we needed to do something to celebrate with them,” Bradfield said
Along with that, each student received a graduation box from the University. They contain a cap, a diploma sleeve, and their traditional servant towels.
“We’ll probably have some that throw on their robes, their hats and their tassels, and hoods, if they’re graduate students, with their families and watch it that day in the comfort of their own homes,” Bradfield said.
In her box, she also got two handwritten notes from her professors.
“That was just a really sweet surprise that I was not expecting, and something that I’ll cherish for a long time just to have those final words from professors that I’ve had for several years,” Wieczorek said.
USF will also be making a video compiling photos or videos of the seniors in their cap and gown.
“Even though it’s kind of a bitter sweet ending, an unexpected ending, I think it will still be something we can look back on and appreciate,” Wieczorek said.
Because there’s no box that can contain the spirit of USF’s class of 2020.
“Geography is just distance, but the sense of love and care for people endures beyond geography.” Bradfield said.
The virtual graduation will air May 17th then will be available later online for students to download and preserve.