BRADENTON, Fla. - From the State College of Florida board room, Dr. Carol Probstfeld addressed more than 600 who logged on to watch the virtual graduation of the class of 2020.
"It's my privilege to welcome you to the spring 2020 commencement ceremony of the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota. You deserve to be honored to committing yourself to finishing your degree at a time when everything in your life became uncertain," she said.
Instead of walking across a stage, the class of 2020 listened on their phones or computers, in their cars, at home, or wherever life has landed them during statewide 'stay at home' orders.
"It was important to us because there’s pomp and circumstance to this occasion and we wanted to show the students that we are still here for them and we are still here for them just as we would be if they were here with us in person," said Dr. Probstfeld.
Graduates will still be able to walk across the stage with the fall commencement class, but SCF wanted to honor graduates on the day they were supposed to graduate.
The college set up a Zoom meeting with speakers and broadcasted it live on Facebook.
"It's still a momentous occasion no matter where I’m doing it from. If I’m sitting down or barefoot," said Luke Sandlin.
Barefoot from his home, Sandlin was honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award. He also delivered a keynote speech.
"This institution made it impossible to not enjoy every moment and opportunity that was given to me," he said.
The names of more than 800 graduates were displayed as loved ones called in through WSLR 96.5 FM. For two hours they sent texts, emails and voicemails that were played live to graduates.
"Twenty years from now when you’re thinking back you’ll be that special class that did it uniquely. And did it because of the strength of you the power of your will and the focus of your future and here’s to you," said Dr. Probstfeld.