WINTERVILLE—It won’t be live and in person, but Pitt Community College will hold a graduation ceremony this spring to celebrate the Class of 2020.
Due to the need for social distancing to combat the coronavirus, PCC administrators canceled plans for a traditional commencement ceremony this month at East Carolina University’s Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. Instead, the college is organizing a virtual graduation that will go live June 1.
“Graduation is a time-honored tradition, and the PCC Class of 2020 deserves a ceremony in which they are celebrated and recognized for their accomplishments,” said PCC President Lawrence L. Rouse. “While a virtual ceremony won’t quite be the same as watching nearly 1,000 happy graduates filing into Williams Arena to the cheers of several thousand family and friends, it’s the best we can do under the circumstances—and it comes from the heart.”
According to PCC Graduation Specialist Emily Davis, Pitt’s Class of 2020 is comprised of 1,196 graduates who earned a combined 1,847 degrees, diplomas and certificates.
In addition to Rouse, who will deliver a recorded commencement address to graduates, the virtual ceremony will feature remarks from PCC Student Government Association President Curtisia Canady. It will also include PCC Trustees Chairman Gary Evans presenting the board’s 2020 Distinguished Service Award to retiring board member Charles Long.
Marching Order, a California-based company specializing in graduation planning, is establishing the framework for PCC’s online ceremony. Students have been invited to upload photos and special messages to be displayed during the program along with their academic achievements, which include special awards and participation in student clubs and organizations.
“Our goal is to make the virtual graduation as similar to previous PCC commencement ceremonies as possible,” Davis said. “A professional announcer will call each graduate’s name, and each member of the graduating class has been given the option of ordering a cap and gown, diploma cover and honor cords as keepsakes or to use in their photo for the ceremony.”
For PCC administrators, it’s important to end the semester on a high note, and the virtual graduation will certainly help that cause. The college has already had to cancel a number of special events honoring students, including several award presentations and pinning ceremonies.
“I must admit, in the many years that I have served in higher education, never have I experienced a spring semester quite like this one, where there were no students or faculty members on campus,” Rouse said. “I want to thank our students for working hard to finish out the semester, and I’d like to acknowledge the sacrifices of those who missed out on academic and recognition activities and other celebrations marking their unique milestones.”
Once the link to PCC’s virtual graduation has gone live, Davis says the ceremony will be available for viewing for one year. She added that graduates will be able to download their individual slides from the presentation to share on social media.