INSTITUTE, W.Va. — May graduates at West Virginia State University were honored in a virtual commencement ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, the first of its kind in the institution’s long history.
255 graduates with the Class of 2020 tuned in via Zoom dressed in graduation caps and gowns and went through as much of a traditional ceremony as possible that was streamed on the institution’s YouTube page.
West Virginia State (WVSU), like many other universities and colleges around the country have turned to online ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish you were here with me. I wish we were together, you were walking across this stage and I could shake your hand and give you your diplomas. Unfortunately, that is not the case,” WVSU President Dr. Anthony Jenkins said.
Commencement exercises included the student address by Colleen Miller, a May graduate and the president of the WVSU Student Government Association, conferment of degrees and presentation of candidates done by Jenkins, Dr. R Charles Byers the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. J. Paige Carney, the Dean of College of Professional Studies, and Dr. Robert Wallace, the Dean of College of Arts and Humanities.
Jenkins then gave remarks, which was part of his final graduation ceremony at WVSU. He is leaving for the president position at Coppin State University and Byers is slated to take over as interim president at WVSU on May 16.
Jenkins told the graduates that ending semesters are his favorite times of the academic year.
“It’s a time where we get to watch you achieve some amazing things. Despite the circumstances that we find ourselves in, I want you to know it will not diminish or dampen this glorious day or the incredible accomplishments that you have achieved,” he said.
32 graduates received their master’s degrees and 223 were given bachelor’s degrees on Wednesday.
WVSU graduates are encouraged to take photos of themselves and share on social media, using the hashtag #WVSUGrad2020. All May graduates are also invited to return to campus in December to participate in WVSU’s traditional December 2020 commencement.
Jenkins told the students this is their time to shine.
“I encourage you to take the time to reflect on what you have achieved, the odds you have overcome, and to appreciate the unwavering tenacity it took for you to get here,” he said.
“Every one of you is amazing and the entire Yellow Jacket nation wishes you unbound success in every facet of your life.”