Horns were honking, signs were being waving and caps were flying last week at Southwestern Adventist University as they celebrated the Class of 2020 in true coronvavirus fashion.
A joint effort amongst several SWAU departments lead to the creation of a parade and impromptu ceremony on campus. Faculty and staff members donned their robes to walk and/or ride with the students.
“It was a combination of our staff,” President Ken Shaw said. “Our advancement office and student services, both of them were very engaged, as well as our enrollment office. They got together and just worked out all the logistics and worked with the police department and the fire department, both which were great partners in this.
“Fortunately we had a few of the graduates still here so they could come celebrate with us. We wanted to do something special because we’re missing the grand weekend programs that we have for our graduates.”
The weekend-long celebration was scheduled for Friday through Sunday. Everything was canceled because of the pandemic, but an in-person commencement ceremony is planned for Aug. 9.
A video of the celebration was posted at 10 a.m. Sunday, which was the original time of commencement.
“Your hard work has paid off and we would like to welcome you to our alumni family,” the message posted with the video reads. “While this semester has been unique and while we wish that we could have spent this special day with all of you, our employees, community and seniors who sheltered in place on campus during quarantine, wanted to come together and celebrate you!
“We hope that this video shares a small taste of how proud we are of you and cannot wait to celebrate you on Aug. 9!”
SWAU had 145 graduates this year.
“I think it was very meaningful that they took the time out of their day to do this for us and not all people do that,” graduate Carmen Amigon said. “I am really grateful for being at Southwestern because they think about each and every one of us not just the ones here but everybody else.
A native of New Jersey, Amigon received her elementary education degree and will being working in Abilene soon teaching grades 1-4.
“God led me here and I’m really glad because I met my family,” she said.
After walking down Old Betsy Road to the center of campus, the graduates posed for pictures before Shaw announced their education completion.
“By virtue of the authority vested in me by the state of Texas and by the board of trustees at Southwestern Adventist University, I now confer upon you the degrees of which you have been recommended,” Shaw said. “Graduates, whether you’re here or whether you’re at home, you may now move your tassels from the right to the left and I want to be the first to welcome you as Southwestern Adventist University alumni. Graduates of 2020, congratulations!”
After throwing their caps in the air, the graduates enjoyed a picnic lunch prepared by SWAU Dining Services.