Graduation for the class of 2021 (and 2020) presented many programs with a challenge: How should graduation ceremonies balance safety and celebration? We asked surgical technology and surgical assisting educators how their institutions approached the situation and were wowed by their dedication and creativity. Take a look in this round up of stories from across the country.

Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort, SC
Submitted by Ashley Sumner, AS, CST, Surgical Technology Program Director

The commencement ceremony for the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, SC, held on Friday, May 7, 2021, consisted of two components: a drive-through event and a virtual ceremony.

The drive-through event allowed students to participate in graduation similar to walking across the stage. Vehicles lined up around the campus, and when each vehicle reached the platform, the graduate could have a photo taken with the president of the college, receive their diploma cover and return to their vehicle.

Once the procession was complete, the virtual ceremony took place on the college’s YouTube channel. The program included singing of the national anthem, guest speakers and recognition of the graduates, much like a traditional commencement ceremony.

Technical College of the Lowcountry worked incredibly hard to organize a memorable event for our student graduates. The turnout for the drive-through was phenomenal, and it was a pleasure to see the support from our students’ families. It has been an honor to be a part of educating the next generation of surgical technologists. The pandemic has changed all our lives, but it was encouraging to see how many students persevered through the past year’s events.

Students at Technical College of the Lowcountry processed via drive-through for graduation on a beautiful, sunny day in May. 

 When the drive-through graduation ceremony was complete, students were celebrated on the college’s YouTube channel.

Madisonville Community College, Madisonville, KY
Submitted by Jeff Bidwell, MA, CSA, CSFA, CST, KCSA, FAST, Program Director  

Our program at Madisonville Community College (MCC), hosted individual graduation ceremonies scheduled in 10-minute increments in early May. Forty-seven students were scheduled each day, and five guests per student were allowed to attend.

The ceremony included traditional elements, with students’ names and majors announced by the college provost, while the college president presented students with their diplomas as “Pomp and Circumstance” played in the background. A photo was taken of each graduate with the MCC president, and individually with his/her diploma.

The audience consisted of a faculty representative from each division, dressed in regalia, who came together for two-hour shifts to celebrate and honor the graduates. Professional staff and classified staff worked behind the scenes to sign in students and usher them to the Fine Arts Center auditorium prior to the ceremony. Afterward, they escorted students to an alumni table and a selfie-station with the KCTCS mascot, the Pathfinder.

Students were celebrated with pomp and circumstance (and masks) at Madisonville Community College. 

University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL
Submitted by Theresa Sorgen-Burleson, MBA, CST, Surgical Technology Program Director 

Our students graduated on Saturday, May 1, in a traditional ceremony with social distancing and masks.  Students were allowed to invite a limited number of guests to the ceremony to see them exchange elbow-bumps with the university president and receive their diplomas.

Graduates gathered at the University of St. Francis for a brief, maskless photo together.

Glendale Career College, Glendale, CA
Submitted by Anoush Zakarian, Associate Director of Career Services, Glendale Career College

Glendale Career College’s graduation first virtual graduation ceremony took place in July 2020. A curbside gift pickup included the student’s cap and gown, awards and a dinner gift card from local restaurant, El Pollo Loco, for the graduate’s family to enjoy while watching the ceremony online.

The ceremony included guest speakers, administration staff and faculty members. Each graduate’s name and award was read and displayed on the screen. Pictures were sent by our graduates to display as they watched the ceremony at home.

Graduates at Glendale Career College received their cap and gown curbside, along with other goodies, to help celebrate their virtual ceremony.

Kirtland Community College, Roscommon, MI
Submitted by Nicole Claussen, MS, CST, FAST, Program Director of Surgical Technology

On May 22, 2021, Kirtland Community College held drive-through graduation ceremonies for students who graduated in 2020 or 2021. Graduates were able to have as many cars full of family and friends as they wished join them. They pulled up to the red carpet and walked to the end where their name was announced and their degree or certificate was presented.

College faculty and administrators joined the celebration in graduation regalia to cheer on the graduates. With restrictions still in place in the state of Michigan at the time of the event, this was the best option available to celebrate our graduates. It ended up being a beautiful day and a great way to honor the accomplishments of our hard-working graduates. All graduates also received a special gift and were directed to a photo taking area that included props.

Some graduates at Kirtland Community College found fun and safe ways to keep their ceremony interesting, including pulling up to the red carpet in a trolley.