Graduates celebrate fall 2020 commencement online

Mary Racette and Olivia Fellows

Commencement looked different this year for the class of 2020. Over 1,400 Grand Valley State University graduates were invited to celebrate their accomplishments over Zoom on Friday, Dec. 11. 

GVSU provided a link located on the commencement page of their website for graduates and their friends, families and supporters to safely acknowledge the class of 2020. While earlier in the fall GVSU planned on making the commencement partially in person, they ended up only keeping online the virtual portion of the ceremony. 

Out of all the graduating students this semester, the most represented undergraduate majors are nursing and marketing. The graduate program with the highest number of graduates is physician assistant studies, closely followed by speech-language pathology. 

Hannah Swain is a 2020 graduate with a major in multimedia journalism and double minor in writing and sociology. She said she attended the ceremony on Friday. 

“I am going to send out a link to my friends and family and hopefully they will be in attendance to watch my name appear on a screen,” said Swain in the days leading up to the ceremony. 

With student, faculty and families safety in mind, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused GVSU to make many changes. 

“I am a little disappointed obviously but in the end I’d rather my school do whatever is safe for all of us,” Swain said. “At least GVSU is still trying their best to do something for us.”

In Swain’s time at GVSU, she has kept busy with various organizations and leadership positions. She said some of her most valuable memories from college come from her experiences and mentorship in the Multimedia Journalism Department and her involvement in Alternative Breaks. 

“I am one of those people who like to overbook myself and constantly be on the run,” said Swain.

While the pandemic and online learning has caused some challenges, Swain has found some silver linings from her last year at GVSU. 

““It’s been an interesting adjustment but it has also been really nice too. I have been able to take a moment and pause and have time to relax,” said Swain. 

Samantha Hurst is a graduating Hospitality and Tourism Management major. While this last year was extra difficult to navigate her schedule between Zoom meetings and online classes, her time at GVSU helped her find her passion.

Hurst said when she first started college at GVSU she was not as active on campus. However, after joining Alpha Sigma Alpha her junior year, she quickly worked her way up to leadership positions, including Vice President of Programming and Ritual. She said she hopes to work for her sorority’s nationals following graduation.

Even though commencement was not in its traditional form, GVSU encouraged students to celebrate their milestone achievement through the virtual ceremony that was be streamed via Facebook and YouTube.

Click here to view the Lanthorn’s Fall 2020 Commencement Issue.