Graduating from college is an impressive feat, and Graceland University wants its graduates to know the university is proud of them. This achievement is typically celebrated during a commencement ceremony – in the spring on the Lamoni, Iowa, campus, and in the fall on the Independence, Missouri, campus – where every graduate walks across the stage to accept their diploma as their name is read.
However, with the move to online learning this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Graceland graduates, their families and the entire Graceland community felt a loss with the cancelation of this spring ceremony. (The official ceremony has been rescheduled to Oct. 4 during Homecoming 2020. Read more.)
Graceland was not going to let the day go by without offering the opportunity for celebration, so President Patricia H. Draves, Vice President for Academic Affairs Jill Rhea, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and several members of the faculty came together – virtually – to offer recognition and messages of congratulations in a video presented on the university’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. (View video below.)
President Draves, wearing academic regalia, addressed the graduates as she would have in person, offering a message of recognition that connected this year’s class to the generations of Gracelanders who came before them. Rhea talked of the pride she feels that this class now enters the 7% of the world’s population with a college degree. Then, White read the names of each of the graduates, providing a special, individual moment of recognition for all those in the Graceland University Class of 2020. Finally, several members of the faculty – most of them also in regalia – offered messages of congratulations from afar on the day everyone planned to come together to celebrate.
This was a special day. One that happened very differently than everyone planned, but the day itself was still special to all Graceland faculty and staff because it marked the culmination of years of study and hard work for a group of individuals they have come to care for so deeply. It is the hope of the university that it was special to the graduates as well and that they will return to “the Hill” in October to celebrate the way we planned: together.