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FIU holds first in-person commencement ceremony since pandemic started

FIU holds first in-person commencement ceremony since pandemic started
FIU holds first in-person commencement ceremony since pandemic started

SWEETWATER, Fla. – The first of six in-person commencement ceremonies kicked off Saturday morning at Florida International University’s Riccardo Silva Stadium on the university’s main campus in West Dade.

In-person ceremonies were canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and were moved online. FIU’s president Mark B. Rosenberg said it took planning to be able to pull off the first in-person commencement ceremony during a pandemic.

“There has been a year’s worth of planning. We love our commencements. We normally do about 30 commencements a year and every one is special. This is an opportunity to restore that energy and that tradition. It’s also an opportunity for the families to come out and celebrate —there hasn’t been much to celebrate this year unfortunately. But these commencements really bring us together for that celebration,” said Rosenberg.

While the pomp and circumstance will still be part of the celebration, things will look different.

For starters, rather than being held indoors in an auditorium or basketball arena, all six of the ceremonies, set for Saturday and Sunday, will have a strict capacity limit of 1,000 graduates per event, despite the outdoor setting. The chairs where the graduates will sit are also spaced six-feet apart.

In addition to caps and gowns, graduates must wear face coverings and must maintain the all-important six-feet of distance at all times, including when lining up to walk to the stage to receive their diplomas.

Family members sitting in the stands, also must practice social distancing and wear face coverings.

In all, about 6,000 FIU graduates will be participating this weekend, according to FIU officials.

Graduates from 2020, who celebrated their graduations virtually, were also invited to participate.

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.