Pace University sending off 2021 graduates in-person, albeit without family
Saturday marks an exciting, long-awaited day for 2021 college graduates with in-person ceremonies returning to campuses.
Like most colleges, Pace University was forced to have graduation virtually last May. But with increased vaccine distribution and the pandemic seemingly winding down in the United States, 12 celebrations are in-person this year.
"I'm calling them the brave class of 2021 because what they've been through has shaped them," said Pace University President Marvin Krislov. "I think they've shown resilience that will serve them well in their future, and we want to give them the best possible sendoff."
It's an historic graduation also because Pace is graduating its first-ever Ph.D. class in nursing.
"It is extremely important to have women of color at this level," said a nursing graduate of the program, Dr. Delores McGregor.
There are some restrictions in place. No family or guests are allowed to attend, but every graduating student will still be able to walk across the stage for individual recognition.
"They're going to have a chance to have their pictures taken and replicate the feeling of what would be normally a big, in-person commencement," Krislov said.
All graduating students attending had to test negative for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.
"I would've loved my family to be here. It's a milestone for us as a first-gen, but I think we're doing it the best we can," said Stephanie Nazario, a public relations graduate.
The full Pace commencement program is a combination of smaller in-person ceremonies and virtual ones. Saturday's in-person events will be professionally recorded to air during a virtual celebration on May 17.