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Virtual Graduations, Celebrations Help College Students Mark Milestone This Weekend

Virginia Hardy, East Carolina University vice chancellor of student affairs.

East Carolina University celebrated graduation online Friday morning. It's one of a number of modified college graduation ceremonies taking place in the state this weekend.

Students, friends and family tuned into the livestream and posted comments with their congratulations. ECU's Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson introduced the ceremony.

"I know there is no substitute for a commencement celebration in person on our beautiful campus," Mitchelson said. "We recognize that this ceremony is just another example of how COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Despite these unusual and challenging times, this is still one of the most important moments of your lives."

The ceremony featured a commencement speaker, and a pre-recorded performance from the university choir with students singing the alma mater in unison from their homes. The University invited students to post on social media to commemorate the moment.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 10, UNC- Chapel HIll will hold a video watch party on Facebook and YouTube so graduates and their families can celebrate together until it's safe to hold an in-person ceremony.

The stream will include special messages to the Class of 2020, highlights from their time at Carolina and virtual performances by Harmonyx and the Clef Hangers.

At Duke, officials have also delayed a formal commencement ceremony but more than 1,800 undergraduate students will receive their bachelor's degrees, and more than 4,000 have completed master's and doctoral work as well.

While the traditional in-person commencement ceremony has been postponed, graduating students will have a chance to celebrate through a new, interactive digital experience called Marking the Moment: Duke 2020, which debuts May 10.

At NC State, officials have not yet set a new date for a commencement ceremony for the spring 2020 graduating class, but many celebrations have taken place across the various colleges and non-academic university units.

Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
Naomi P. Brown joined WUNC in January 2017.
Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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