After having to postpone its commencement ceremony earlier this year, Tennessee Tech will celebrate graduating seniors from both the Spring and Summer semesters on Saturday.
Tennessee Tech Chief Communication Officer Karen Lykins said this graduation will be a change to what students and families are accustomed. The program, which will be altered from past commencement ceremonies, will include video recordings and a live address from Tech President Phil Oldham.
“It’s going to look quite a bit different,” Lykins said. “But we worked really hard to preserve the moments that you cherish: the photo opportunity as you walk across the stage and hearing your name called. That’s something that Tech does that a lot of people let go years ago. So, we’ve preserved those moments, but the rest will look quite a bit different.”
More than 700 students have signed up to participate in one of three commencement ceremonies on Saturday at the Hooper Eblen Center. In addition to the look of the ceremony, Lykins said there will be precautions in place to protect the health of everyone attending graduation, including hand sanitizer at the each door and disinfecting wipes available to wipe down seating areas.
“We’re asking graduates and their families to stay in their vehicles if they arrive early and start entering the Hoop at an hour before the ceremony that they’re attending,” Lykins said. “We’re trying to make sure we don’t have lines and we have time to clean between ceremonies.”
Another change to the ceremony, Lykins said, is that it will not have a processional or recessional. Students will head directly to their seats as they arrive. Upon crossing the stage they will exit through the arena’s tunnel and meet family and friends outside.
Since Spring Graduation was cancelled, Lykins said it was important to be able to celebrate those students that miss out earlier this year.
“I hear from so many students who wanted this moment,” Lykins said. “We had a team of about twelve from all walks of life that represented that student body. We got together this summer and had some Zoom meetings. They were really the source of, one, inspiration, and then also the how to, and they let us know what meant the most, but they also let us know they’d be willing to wear a mask and make some adjustments.”
Lykins said students that missed graduating last spring are welcome to take part in either the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 ceremonies, as well.