VCU celebrates first in-person commencement ceremony since start of pandemic

Published: Dec. 11, 2021 at 6:54 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 11, 2021 at 6:57 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Virginia Commonwealth University held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 in person.

Previously ceremonies were held virtually but on Saturday hundreds of students walked through the Siegel Center ready to celebrate their accomplishments with their loved ones.

For some like Joshua Hann, who is graduating with a bachelor’s in information systems, they thought this day was never going to happen.

“I didn’t honestly at first, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be online or virtual because I know a lot of schools are going virtual but I’m so glad it’s in person,” Hann said. “It’s a lot more intimate and a great experience.”

Finally, those special moments were back from walking down the aisle, to celebrating with classmates, and of course the screaming parents.

It was an emotional moment for students who pushed through, despite the extra challenges brought on by the pandemic.

”I’m graduating late because of the pandemic,” Dalia Ghanem said. “I couldn’t find any internships for my degree and it kind of pushed me back a little bit but after everything calmed down I was able to find my internship and graduate.”

It wasn’t just the Class of 2021 who shared the special moment, graduates from the Class of 2020 and Spring 2021 were also welcomed to come back after many ceremonies were canceled or postponed.

It’s an invitation that Ashley Hill who lives and works in North Carolina says she couldn’t pass up.

“I finished my program in 2020, I got my degree it came in the mail and so I was so upset that I couldn’t walk like I’m the person who always says if people don’t celebrate you I will come to every celebration,” Hill said.

Hill says for her this is the last celebration as she moves to the next chapter of life.

“This is literally the last step in everything to become a professional in my field so it definitely feels full circle,” Hill said.

VCU says each department also held its own in-person ceremonies and that 3,000 students graduated in the latter half of 2021 alone.

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