FAMU celebrates Class of 2020 with first-ever virtual ceremony

Posted at 8:02 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 11:43:49-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- — FAMU'S Class of 2020 marked a milestone in a very different way this weekend.

Instead of walking across a big stage, donning caps and tassels, graduates had theirs names called online for the university's first-ever virtual commencement ceremony. Florida A&M University wanted to maintain social distancing but celebrate their students.

"Virtual graduation is better than not being recognized because while you're not walking across the stage physically, mentally you are," said Angelika Maria Lowder.

Angelika Lowder and her twin sister, Makayla Shanice Lowder, were both part of more than 1,100 people who were recognized on the virtual stage Saturday morning.

"I was watching it at home and I was emotional," said Makayla Lowder. "I still felt the same emotion because all my hard work paid off in the end. I was very excited. In a sense, overwhelmed. Then, of course,, I started tearing up."

"To be honest, I would've wanted an in-person graduation but I feel like you have to have to adjust with the times and I was appreciative of it," said MBA graduate Jonas LaBoo.

LaBoo kept busy during his big day by giving back. LaBoo helped organize and give 300 free meals to people on Tallahassee's southside.

"I thought, during this time of COVID-19 and how it's affecting black-owned businesses, this would be the perfect event," said LaBoo.

Now, LaBoo hopes to get into private equity and the twins are headed for continuing education. As they take their next big step, a lot is still uncertain of how the next school year will look and what restrictions may be in place come fall. The graduates have some advice for the incoming freshman.

"Make sure when you're at home you turn off the TV and focus and study," said Makayla Lowder.

"It doesn't matter if the pandemic is going on or not, put all the effort into your work and make sure you remain focused because you really want to get this degree and that's the end-game," said Angelika Lowder.

Key note speaker and Rattler Angela Robinson told graduates she's proud of them, what they fought for and that no amount of social distancing would take away what they've earned.

Many universities, including FAMU, have said it's still too early to decide whether they will resume in-person classes or not this fall.