class of 2020

South Florida Seniors Find New Ways to Celebrate Graduation

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Graduation season is getting a whole new look, as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has forced ceremonies to take place online rather than in person.

Florida International University held its virtual commencement Friday. One month earlier, the school's campus had turned into a ghost town, as students were sent home due to the risk of COVID-19.

FIU's class of 2020 got to show off their accomplishments with pictures during a livestream, their loved ones celebrating from the comments section. 

“I honestly thought today was going to be kind of boring,” said Arlette De La Rosa, an FIU graduate. Wanting to make her day special, Rosa's parents threw her a party. 

“I got dressed up, my parents got dressed up, we were matching, it was a really good day,” she said. 

Rosa's family weren't the only ones who got creative with celebrations. Staff at Florida Atlantic University started a caravan here to one student’s house to honor her. 

Isabel Hidalgo received her diploma in front of her family and professors. 

“I’m just incredibly grateful,” she said. “It’s so hard for me to put it entirely into words because it just means too much to me to have everyone here.” 

Isabel is the first person to graduate in the university’s Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars program, specifically for first generation college students. 

Dr. Andrea Guzman Oliver, the Associate Vice-President for Student Outreach and Diversity, oversees the program. 

“To know that she didn’t have to miss her graduation, that we brought the graduation to her and to see her actually speechless about seeing so many people that love her was very important to me,” said Guzman Oliver. “I had to catch my own tears.” 

While the vision wasn’t so clear for the class of 2020’s celebration, for some it turned out to be a special day surrounded by special people.

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