Bay Area colleges get creative with graduation ceremonies

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — College students across the Bay Area are celebrating graduation this weekend and university leaders are trying to make it special, despite COVID-19.

Students work very hard for their chance to walk across that stage — and many of the 2020 grads missed out on that experience.

So organizers told KRON4 they started planning early, back in January, to make sure they were celebrated this year.

Although the ceremony looks a little different, many 2021 graduates were still celebrated.

“I’m just super happy that I did it.”

Universities across the Bay Area got creative with their ceremonies.

U.C. Hastings streamed their graduation so friends and family could watch online.

Sonoma State did a combination of a limited number of people in person — as well as a live stream.

And at Cal State East Bay, they had a drive-by ceremony.

“They were extremely excited from early on. They were so happy when we announced that we’ll be having a commencement celebration.”

“When they said commencement, I was like ‘O.K., I’ll be right on that.'”

Jasmine Jackson is a business major. She says although it was different than she expected, it was still special.

“It felt great, you spend so much time in school, so much energy and to have my moment it’s just unbelievable.”

After she walked across the stage, she was able to hop right in the car with her family.

Organizer Richard Watters says the event allowed for a very imitate experience.

“You could see that the students were so excited to cross the stage. They got more time to spend on the stage and their family got to see them close up, which they wouldn’t have been able to do if we were in the stadium.”

Graduates were even able to share the walk across the stage. Some graduates brought their children up, and one even brought her dog.

Watters says he’s grateful the students had the opportunity to have this experience.

“It’s special. 60% of our students are first in their families to graduate so it was important for us to make sure we were honoring them.”

Both Cal State East Bay and Sonoma state allowed 2020 and 2021 graduates to participate in the graduation.

Cal State East Bay told KRON4 they hope to have a traditional in-person ceremony next year, but a lot of students like the smaller drive-by experience.

So they might offer both next year.

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