No graduation, USD chalks paw prints to honor class of 2020


VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — It’s a lackluster end to college for seniors, and they can chalk it up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spring graduations as we know them are cancelled or postponed. That’s why the University of South Dakota is revealing a surprise tribute for its graduating coyotes.

Four years, 120 credit hours, dozens of late night study sessions, and an infinite number of once in a lifetime experiences with friends. That’s the typical recipe for a college career.

“Coming together and celebrating at the end of the year is sort of the dessert,” Sheila Gestring, USD president, said.

It’s a bitter reality to swallow when you’ve worked so hard only to see graduation disappear. That’s why USD is showing seniors they left their mark here. Faculty members grabbed some chalk, and drew coyote paw prints all over campus sidewalks.

“A paw for every grad,” Gestring said.

That’s nearly 1,400 paw prints marching up and down campus.

“This is a small token that hopefully lifts their spirits a little bit on a day when they would be walking across stage to receive their diploma,” Gestring said.

USD also released video, giving a bird’s eye view of the places graduates spread their wings. The video, shot by USD senior Zbynek Surovec, features a poem written by Hailie Warren. The recipe for the class of 2020 is a little different this year, but Gestring hopes the nearly 1,400 graduates know the imprint they made here is truly special.

“I hope it lets them know this is family. This is the USD family, and they are still a part of the USD family and will be for a lifetime,” Gestring said.

USD plans to have an in-person graduation for the class of 2020 in October.

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