TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Students at Florida State University will be attending their graduation virtually, something that's become a new normal due to COVID-19; but many Valdosta State University students will spend the weekend preparing for a long-awaited in-person ceremony on Monday.
"For a graduate, graduation is certainly a huge accomplishment, a huge achievement. But it's certainly something that you don't do alone and that you don't accomplish alone," said VSU graduate Jacob Bell.
Bell is one of the thousands of Valdosta State University students who didn't get that walk across the stage in the Spring due to COVID-19. On Monday, he'll get that chance with his friends and family there to make the milestone.
For students like Kamari Logan, knowing they'd be the first class to take the stage after interruptions from the pandemic served as a bit of extra motivation.
"When we got the news," said Logan, "that we were going to have a commencement anyway, it really gave us that push to finish the semester strong. You know we're going to have a commencement, we're going to have that, we're going to be able to walk across the stage, Valdosta is allowing us that opportunity so at least for me that really gave me the push to keep going. suddenly that made my last semester feel a lot more real."
To give students this opportunity, safety is top of mind for school administrators like Vice President for University Advancement John D. Crawford.
"We'll be graduating at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. We will be operating with 25 percent capacity. For the first time in VSU history, we did require guests to have tickets. So we worked closely with our athletic ticketing office to put together a socially distance seating chart for the stadium," Crawford. "We wanted to do everything possible to make sure that the guests were as spaced as possible in compliance with what the CDC is recommending for large gatherings as well as the department of health."
VSU will welcome about 1,000 graduates to Bazemore–Hyder Stadium Monday for four socially distanced ceremonies.
More than 2,800 graduates from Florida State University will participate in virtual ceremonies on Friday.