This has certainly been a year for firsts. From everyone that is able to, suddenly working from home, to schools being cancelled for the 2nd half of the school year, to face masks being common place in the community. It is safe to say that we will never forget 2020. That fact certainly rings true with graduating high school and college seniors. West Texas A&M University in Canyon is leading the way with announcing how they will hold this year's commencement ceremonies.

WTAMU graduation will still go on, but will be held virtually. Now THAT is a first! The ceremonies will be held online on May 9 from 10am to 10pm. Anyone can attend by going to wtamu.edu/commencement. The ceremonies will recognize about 1,600 undergraduates and graduate students. The reason for moving commencement online is due to the school's response to Covid-19 and an uncertain timeline of when large groups will be allowed to gather again.

“We are proud of our Class of 2020 for excelling, particularly in these unprecedented times, and though world events have made this necessary, we look forward to celebrating commencement with our graduates in this new way,” WT President Dr. Walter Wendler said. “We have worked diligently to make the virtual program special and meaningful.”

Those delivering brief remarks via video will include Elaine Mendoza, Chairman of the Board of Regents for the Texas A&M System; John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System; Wendler, delivering a brief commencement address; Dr. Neil Terry, Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; Ronnie Hall, Executive Director of Alumni Relations; and Colton Bourquin, Student Body President.

Degrees will be awarded to all qualified students, and diplomas and graduate pins will be mailed. Students will receive an email from the dean’s office of the college from which they will graduate to confirm their mailing address and ensure that diplomas are mailed out correctly. May 2020 graduates also will be invited to walk in the December 2020 commencement exercises.

“We hope that these measures will still convey our deepest respect for our May 2020 graduates’ accomplishments,” Wendler said. “Their academic accomplishments are a source of great pride for them, their families and the University as a whole.”

The online commencement landing page will have links to each college, all of which will have a list of their graduating students. The deans of each college will offer brief remarks by video on their respective pages, as well. Students are encouraged to submit a three-minute video by May 5 to thank family, friends, faculty and coaches for their support; approved videos will be linked to from each college’s commencement page. Instructions to submit videos will be emailed to students soon.