Temple University honors Class of 2020 with virtual celebration

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- COVID-19 postponed this year's commencement celebration for more than 10,400 students in the class of 2020 at Temple University.

Instead of walking across the stage and hearing their names called like in years past, Temple students are being honored with a virtual celebration.

"This has been an unprecedented experience for everyone and when we think about the motto of Temple University, 'Perseverance Conquers,' truly this class embodies that motto," said Betsy Tutelman, Senior Vice Provost for Strategic Communications.

Temple is calling the celebration "Temple Made Day." It will honor the largest class in the school's history.

The university created a section on its website with congratulatory videos from celebrities like actress Tina Fey, who didn't attend Temple, but her brother and dad did. Notable Owls like talk show host Tamron Hall, who graduated in 1992, also provided messages of hope.

"Your future is our future. We are going to get through this together as a community," she said.

Graduates say they appreciate the gesture, but nothing replaces the thrill of an official commencement.

"The sentiment is there but it's not the same, so I appreciate it but it just doesn't feel the same," said graduate Nordea Lewis, Temple of Class of 2020.

"It is a little heartbreaking because today was supposed to our day. It's been on our calendars for the past four years plus," said graduate Great Phillips, Temple Class of 2020.

Some students are creating their own impromptu celebrations, like some Temple Med students who took a group picture on the Art Museum steps.

The good news is that the graduation ceremony is not canceled , ust postponed. When COVID-19 restrictions are eased, the university hopes to have a proper, in-person graduation celebration.

"That moment is going to be a dream come true. I am the first person in my family to graduate college, so when I finally get that moment and I look on the stage I am going to honestly feel like I accomplished something," said Lewis.

Other graduations are also being impacted by COVID-19. Villanova says it's cancelling its in-person ceremony and will host an online commencement. Due to the pandemic, Villanova also refunded students more than $16 Million dollars for room and board.
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