STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Thousands of Georgia Southern University students finish their college careers this week. They get the opportunity to march across the stage in one of several in-person ceremonies.
These fall graduations mark the first in-person ceremonies since last December. They’ll be memorable, for several reason.
Raincoats and ponchos covered plenty of graduation gowns as students didn’t let the weather or a pandemic keep them from this milestone.
“You only get this experience once, you make the best of it, no matter the weather or the pandemic,” graduate Maddie Sybert said.
Graduates lined up safely apart and picked up a diploma cover without faculty handing it to them like normal. They paused on stage for a photo, but not the normal handshake. Georgia Southern started a series of ceremonies on Sunday in Savannah.
“We conferred 400 degrees that day, 400 this morning in the rain, 400 this afternoon, and another 800 tomorrow,” GSU President Dr. Kyle Marrero said.
CBS correspondent and alum Skyler Henry spoke to graduates about their experience here - especially this year - and the world they’re about to enter.
“Students today are probably more prepared than I was 10 years ago or classes 20-30 years ago, because they’ve had to deal with so much,” Henry said.
This commencement marks a shift back from virtual ceremonies earlier this year.
“We felt like, for everything they’ve been through this year, bringing them here and showing them we could do this in a safe matter was important to us.”
Some said the rain of the morning symbolized 2020, something to endure and remember and move forward.
They’ll continue with two ceremonies on Thursday. Georgia Southern also offered spring and summer graduates the option to participate in one of the ceremonies this week.