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Read About and View Unique COVID Pandemic Commencement for UST Graduates

Student at Unique and Festive Commencement EventUniversity of St. Thomas celebrated undergraduates and graduates in an innovative commencement ceremony allowing students and their families to experience this special rite of passage and stay safe. Read the highlights of the event below and view the teaser video here. Graduates will receive the full length Commencement video soon.

 On the weekend evenings of Dec. 12 and 13, the University held an inventive commencement event, named the Walk of Hope and Joy, designed for 519 undergraduates and 590 graduates, including 31 Ed.D in Leadership students, who wanted to participate. More than 350 graduates signed up. These were students who completed their studies in Dec. 2019, spring 2020, summer I and II 2020 and fall 2020.

Making Commencement Special during COVID Times

During the evening, graduates and their families used assigned time slots to line up in their cars on Yoakum Boulevard next to the Doherty Library. On this site, a tent with a stage decorated with lights and Christmas trees, awaited.

As their name was called, each graduate walked across the stage, stopping for a photograph mid-stage and a fist bump from Lenny the Lion Mascot. Graduates were only allowed to remove masks when they were alone on the stage. UST President Richard Ludwick along with other key administrators were there to greet graduates when they left the stage. 

In addition to the keepsake photos, each student was filmed on their walk and received a welcome letter and special gift from the Alumni Association. Senior Director of Alumni Relations, Dr. Carla E. Alsandor said, “It was an honor to help call out the graduates’ names this year and to share in this unique celebration of their achievements. We offer our congratulations and remind them that the Office of Alumni Relations and the Association are here to provide an ongoing connection to their alma mater because “once a Celt, always a Celt!”

Graduates' families were able to take photos of the walk across the stage in a safe zone near the street and then retraced their steps and moved down the boulevard to allow the next happy graduates to have the same experience. The music of Pomp and Circumstance added to the festivities.

Graduation Speakers and Honorees

A special Walk of Hope and Joy Commencement video will be sent to graduates and will include Ceremonial Addresses from UST Chaplain Fr. Paul English, CSB; Dr. Christopher Evans, Vice President for Academic Affairs; Curtis Huff, UST Board Chairman; Dr. Richard Ludwick, UST President; and Ms. Nadin Fallah, 2019-2020 Student Body President. A special address by this year’s Keynote Speaker, Dean and Vice Chancellor of Duke University School of Medicine Mary E. Klotman, MD speaks on "Finding inspiration in life’s challenges, and service and truth in medicine.” Dr. Klotman is a renowned infectious diseases specialist who served as a key medical contributor during the AIDS epidemic.