It may not have been the ceremony they anticipated, but the 2020 graduates of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford had a warm send-off from the university on Sunday.
Social distancing efforts kept the graduates and their families from gathering for a late-April commencement. To mark the occasion, the result of four years of hard work, the university held a virtual ceremony Sunday afternoon.
Pitt-Bradford plans to hold an in-person event for the class at some point in the future, according to Dr. Catherine Koverola, president of Pitt-Bradford.
“None of us could have ever imagined that we would be holding this graduation celebration virtually, but here we are and we are celebrating indeed,” she said. “We will also be having a face-to-face commencement celebration on campus as soon as it’s possible for all of us to gather together.”
Those graduating were invited to don caps and gowns and tune in via computer to participate. Family and friends could watch from all over the world as their loved ones were awarded degrees and prepared to begin the next chapter of their lives.
Koverola addressed the students before conferring degrees.
She asked those watching to “pause for a moment with gratitude.
“Graduates, you have all had a host of family members and friends who have supported you along your journey” she said. “They have been with you in hard times and good times. They’ve been there to cheer you on and give you the encouragement and support that you’ve needed.”
Koverola invited graduates to take a moment to express gratitude to family and friends.
She asked they do the same for the “amazing, gifted faculty and staff” who have supported the students by “teaching you, mentoring you, guiding you, challenging you and being with you on this journey.”
Koverola congratulated the group for reaching this milestone and recognized the unique problems they face due to the current medical crisis.
“You are graduating at a historic time,” she said. You will always be the 2020 graduates — the graduates who graduated in the midst of a global pandemic, in a time of global uncertainty and in the midst of that uncertainty, graduates, I encourage you to focus on what is certain.”
What is certain, she explained, is that they persevered and they earned their degrees.
She encouraged them to use their new knowledge to help solve the world’s current problems.
“What your degree represents is that you have acquired specialized skills and knowledge in your chosen discipline and professional field,” said Koverola. “You also have developed as a critical thinker, as a problem solver. You are a well-rounded educated person.
“And with this come rights, responsibilities and privileges,” she continued. “I encourage you during this celebration day to reflect upon your journey going forward and how you will choose to use your knowledge and skills and capacities to do good, to make wise choices, to be a courageous problem-solver.
“We all know that at this time in history in particular the world needs people to step forward with generosity of spirit, with skill and with capacity. You, our 2020 graduate, are just that person.”
Koverola instructed the graduates, who were watching from home, to make sure their tassels were on the right. With a few ceremonial words, she conferred degrees to the members of the class of 2020 and granted permission for graduates to move their tassels.
As graduates could not be recognized walking across a stage, the university put together a slideshow of the graduates. Each student was recognized with a slide showing the graduate’s name, degree and a photograph. Organ music accompanied the virtual procession.
The event ended with faculty and staff sharing well-wishes to the new grads.