It wasn't your typical graduation. Graduates didn't walk across the stage to accept their diplomas and throw up their caps up in the air at the end of commencement. Family and friends didn't cheer from the stands and blow air horns in celebration.
But the Lincoln University community, along with graduates' families and friends, came together to recognize 371 students during Saturday's virtual graduation.
Graduation was originally scheduled for May 9, but the university postponed it because of the coronavirus pandemic. After receiving feedback from a handful of graduates, LU decided to hold the commencement on Youtube.
Instead of graduates walking across the stage, LU listed individual students, their degrees and if they graduated with high honors as "Pomp and Circumstance" played in the background. The students recognized in the video graduated between the summer of 2019 and this summer, LU spokeswoman Misty Young said.
While the students didn't walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, there wasn't a lack of support and love for the graduates. Family members and friends commented throughout the video, congratulating the graduates.
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Graduates also took to the comments, thanking their friends, family and faculty for helping them achieve their goals.
Frank Logan, Lincoln University Board of Curators president, and Lincoln University President Jerald Jones Woolfork congratulated the graduates for their achievements in the video.
While it was not the graduation anyone expected, Woolfork said, the university had to consider the safety of the graduates and their guests, along with faculty and staff.
"Just as you, I too am heartbroken that I cannot give you a hug as you walk across the stage or take a picture with you holding your diploma," Woolfork said. "These are times that we have never faced before, and we have to adjust our behavior to them."
Woolfork added she admired the graduates' flexibility and determination.
"None of this, in spite of all the obstacles that have stood in your way, LU Class of 2020, you stayed focused," she said. "You refused to quit, and you stayed the course, and you fought the good fight."
Even Gov. Mike Parson and Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin made appearances in the video, congratulating the graduates and giving them some words of wisdom.
"As a father and grandfather, I understand the heartbreak these seniors are going through," Parson said in the video. "I am saddened to not celebrate your graduation in person this year. While this time may not be what you envisioned, there is still much to be celebrated. You have overcome many difficulties and reached goals that may have seemed impossible to achieve."
Parson also challenged graduates to "not let COVID-19 define your future," adding they can achieve their goals if they try and have faith.
Lincoln University plans to post a wrap-up video of the graduates in their caps and gowns. University officials urged graduates to email photos of them in their caps and gowns to [email protected]