In light of face-to-face graduation ceremonies being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Tech is offering the first ever virtual commencement for 2020 graduates that will be released on Youtube and Facebook on Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m.
According to Caroline Johnston from the registrar’s office, there are approximately 1,236 expected spring 2020 graduates —45 of which were expected to be graduating with their associate’s degree, 653 with a bachelor’s degree, 498 with a master’s degree and 40 with a doctorate degree.
“We [graduates] have all worked hard for this, and looked forward to a college graduation for a while, so to see it be cancelled is definitely sad.” said Mollie Kaplan, a soon-to-be Florida Tech 2020 graduate in business entrepreneurship.
Kaplan added that she understands the severity of the circumstances and does not blame anyone for the decision, but said because of the face-to-face ceremony cancellation her family will be watching the virtual commencement online together.
Florida Tech announced the virtual commencent on April 13 stating that they still wanted “graduates and their loved ones” to watch and share the experience together. The university said that every graduate’s name will appear on the screen and be read aloud, just as it would be during a traditional commencement ceremony. The following day, the video will be available on-demand and as a downloadable file to be viewed at any time.
Florida Tech is also encouraging 2020 graduates to submit a photo for the virtual commencement. Some photo requirements as cited on Florida Tech’s Coronavirus website page are that the photo must be high quality, unaltered, original and more.
According to Florida Tech’s Director of University Marketing and Brand Strategy, Andy McIlwraith, as of April 23, 200 undergraduate and graduate students have submitted photos for the virtual commencement, Kaplan being one of them.
“I originally just wanted graduation photos for myself,” Kaplan said. “But when I saw the email about the photo submission for the virtual commencement I thought it was a nice opportunity.”
McIlwraith said he hopes a large surge of photo submissions will come in as he doesn’t want anyone to miss out. The deadline for photo submissions has been extended to Friday, May 1.
The university said they hope for 100 percent participation from students for the photo submission.
Students may wish to opt out of the virtual commencent, however that does not mean that they cannot participate in a future in-person ceremony, every graduate will still have that option according to McIlwraith.
Prior to graduate names being read by Alexandra Brewer and Alan Rosiene, faculty members from the School of Arts and Communication, President T Dwayne. McCay and Senior Vice President of Alumni Affairs, Bino Campanini, will speak briefly.
“I usually share with the graduates that I have sat where they are sitting [as a Florida Tech graduate] so I know what they are going through, but that is not true this year,” Campanini said. “I never had to finish my classes online, live under a stay at home order, and experience commencement online. This class is the most unique in the history of Florida Tech and it is a privilege to address them albeit virtually.”
Campanini also said that another missed event will be Grad Bash. On behalf of the Florida Tech alumni association, 2020 graduates will be receiving a special graduation package over the summer.
The virtual commencement will be publicly available for anyone to view online.
“We do not want graduating students or their family and friends to run into any roadblocks when it comes to watching,” McIlwraith said.
Campanini said that he is confident that the class of 2020 is ready to handle the challenges that the world is currently facing.
“I wish them the best of luck and as always go Panthers,” Campanini said.