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Alcorn State University holds virtual graduation ceremony

As the names of Alcorn State University Class of 2020 graduates were read, audience members offered congratulatory cheers and messages of encouragement for the graduates.

“Congratulations Nephew Jarius Patten and Latonya Smothers Bell!! !!” one such message said.

Those cheers of support and encouragement were not audible, however, and the onlookers were not gathered in an arena.

Instead those cheers of support featured exclamation points and emojis and were displayed in a chat box on the side of a YouTube video screen streaming ASU’s graduation ceremonies.

Approximately 1,050 people logged on to YouTube at 9 a.m. Saturday to watch the live stream commencement ceremony for ASU’s Class of 2020.

Such is life in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 50-minute ceremony featured faculty members reading the names of 466 students earning degrees, including 73 graduate degrees, and students who have earned academic honors.

At the end of the streaming ceremony, graduates were instructed to move the tassels on their caps from the right side to the left side and then Neddie Winters, Ph.D, president of the national alumni association inducted the graduates into the ASU Alumni Association.

ASU President Felecia M. Nave, Ph.D., offered the final send off.

“Although COVID-19 has changed the way we traditionally celebrate this occasion, I try to look for the silver lining, and I encourage you to do the same,” Nave said. “It has revealed our resilience and innovative spirit, true to the Alcorn way. Collectively we have found a way to celebrate you in this moment and for that I am so proud to serve as your president. I am confident that you will take what you have learned during your time here at Alcorn and apply it to the world. Graduates, I hope you realize how in your four years you have consistently studied hard to be vested with the knowledge, skills and background values you will need for life. Thank you for the privilege to serve you. We know that you will go forth and do great things. That you will be exceptional and that you will represent Alcorn State University with great pride and character. Again, congratulations and Godspeed.”

The University plans to offer all spring 2020 graduates the opportunity to walk in a future commencement ceremony.

Following Saturday’s ceremony, each graduate will be mailed an “ASU Grad Pack” which will include a diploma, stole, honor cords, official transcript, commencement booklet, and a commemorative USB flash drive of the virtual ceremony, ASU officials said.