Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, students around the world have been unable to attend in-person graduation ceremonies. These events are often very momentous in the lives of students and their families, while also serving as closure to their education. To better serve this demographic, the Department of Psychology hosted online graduation ceremonies for both undergraduate and Graduate students, via Zoom.
The events began with an introduction from Department Chair Dr. J. Scott Jordan. Then faculty took turns reading off the names of graduating students, as friends and family looked on. After a name was called, each individual had the opportunity to say a few words of gratitude or to commemorate their time at ISU. The online nature of the ceremony enabled people from various locations around the country to attend. Family members said their congratulations from locations as near as Chicago to as far as California, which would not have been possible with an in-person commencement. The online graduation ceremonies were such a success that the department is considering doing it again in the future, even if social gathering restrictions no longer apply.
The following are comments by both students and faculty when asked what they thought of the events and if this concept should be continued in the future:
“I was surprised we all had the chance to speak after our name was called. We wouldn’t have that opportunity in normal graduation.” — Taylor Ullrich, psychology graduate
“The department should absolutely do this again! I think it would be a unique experience even if university-wide commencement was still taking place.” — Kendall Ladd, quantitative sequence graduate
“It’s a wonderful idea to have a department focused, remote undergraduate and graduate ceremony. We would get more participation from both graduates and their families. The remote online ceremonies are also more personalized than in-person ceremonies because students get to speak, often thanking their families and friends for their support in achieving their goal of graduation. Although I would not want to take anything away from the in-person ceremony, I do think it is possible to do both.” — Dr. Mark Swerdlik, school psychology
“This was an important way to celebrate with our students and their families in a personal way, especially during quarantine.” — Dr. Eric Wesselmann, industrial/organization, social psychology
“It was fun to see the families so happy to celebrate. Some of the undergraduates had people in several locations cheering them on.” — Dr. Alycia Hund, cognitive & behavioral sciences/undergraduate coordinator
“In the future, I think a small in-person ceremony would be a nice way to honor graduate students.” — Dr. Brea Banks, school psychology
“I was really pleased that we took the initiative to fill in the gap celebrating our graduates’ degrees. I am really excited to think about continuing to celebrate our graduate students and their accomplishments, to recognize their hard work, and to give them an opportunity to talk about their achievements.” — Dr. Matthew Hesson-McInnis, quantitative psychology
“I was a bit surprised that I was as moved by the ceremony as I was. I did not expect it to be so personal and emotional.” — Dr. Julie Campbell, developmental psychology
” I believe that these ceremonies should be continued next year. These occasions allow us to celebrate and honor significant milestones in students’ lives, and they allow us to connect with them in a meaningful way.” — Dr. Karen Mark, clinical-counseling psychology