Local universities honor graduates with virtual celebrations

Coronavirus

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island, Providence College and Salve Regina University held virtual celebrations on Sunday for the Class of 2020.

While their memories of this big day might look a little different, all the schools said it’s important students are awarded their degrees after four years of hard work.

“The fact that we can not be together in person is disappointing to say the least, but we have all learned a lot in recent weeks about setbacks but we have proven we can handle it,” Providence College Graduate Julia Gaffney said.

Providence College held a virtual conferral of degrees Sunday and postponed their commencement to October 31st when hopefully gatherings of more than five people will be allowed in Rhode Island.

College spokesperson Steve Maurano said it was a tough decision to postpone, but it’s important to celebrate in person.

“They really lost out on the second half of their senior year and all the fun activities that go with it. They told us they really hoped we would be able to do something that would allow them some closure in person together so that’s hopefully what we will be able to do in October,” Maurano said.

The University of Rhode Island held their first ever virtual recognition, but says due to overwhelming response, had technical trouble.

The school tweeted Sunday afternoon saying, “Fortunately, because the virtual recognition messages were pre-recorded, viewers will have the same experience viewing the site at a later time. Our team is feverishly working to rectify the problem.”

Salve Regina University also hosted a virtual degree ceremony Sunday and has pushed its 2020 commencement to next May.

“It was heartwarming to see. So we were able to commemorate it but it’s not the same as the actual commencement,” Dr. Kelli Armstrong said.

Salve Regina University President Dr. Kelli Armstrong later joined some families through Zoom. She said the celebrations may have been different this year, but were still special.

“A beautiful video of a daughter as she’s growing up all of her important moments and all of us faculty at Salve and myself were sobbing. They are just beautiful, even virtually they are beautiful,” Armstrong said.

Salve Regina University is planning to hold in person classes at the school next fall, while Providence College is expected to make a decision by July.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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