Students work hard to earn degrees from Eastern Washington University. Every spring each graduate’s diligence and dedication is rewarded when they walk across the commencement stage and hear their name called in front of classmates, family and friends. So you can imagine the heartbreak for the EWU class of 2020 when they learned that, due to coronavirus, they would not have their moment on the graduation stage.
To ensure that each 2020 graduate got the recognition they deserved, EWU changed commencement to include a variety of public and virtual shows of support, as well as a personalized celebration for each graduating Eagle.
Virtual Commencement 2020 occurred online on Saturday, June 13 for semester and quarter program graduates. Because each graduate’s circumstances were different this year, EWU endeavored to create an experience that unified the students while also allowing them to personalize the experience.
Each graduate has a customized commencement celebration webpage uploaded to the main EWU Commencement website. The individualized pages include recorded celebratory messages from President Mary Cullinan, Provost David May, the deans of EWU’s individual colleges and others. Graduates were encouraged to gather with their friends and families, tune into the customized celebration pages and watch the video messages together.
The pages also include personalized messages, photos and videos submitted by the graduate, their family and friends, as well as EWU faculty and staff. Graduates have six months to view and/or download their messages.
Students who filled out the commencement RSVP form before the May 22 deadline also received a special graduation kit in the mail with items curated to help celebrate the special milestone, including a link to the downloadable PDF electronic program, and Eagle4Life window cling and a red EWU sling bag. The grad kits also included a special commemorative graduation edition of The Easterner.
With all of the graduation photos and videos flooding in, Eastern took extra steps to highlight student achievement in public spaces. Students who submitted their images to the university through a call on social media for a “secret project” can find their grad photo featured in a video playing on the video board outside Roos Field at Washington Street and Elm Street. It also lists the names of all 3,422 graduating Eagles, which takes 38 minutes to scroll through. So, pack a picnic and go check it out—or watch it on EWU’s YouTube channel.
Students may also find their smiling face on a billboard at the corner of Monroe and Boone in downtown Spokane. While the location may seem odd, EWU reserved the specific billboard pre-pandemic to congratulate graduates and their families as they would have been leaving the originally scheduled commencement at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Though the location of graduation changed, the message is still worth sharing with the greater Spokane community. Photos were also shared in a congratulatory message from EWU published in The Inlander’s graduation issue released on June 4.
Typically, each academic year also ends with honors and awards programs within Eastern’s individual colleges and programs. Because those events could not happen in person this year, many departments created special videos for their students. Below you’ll find links to watch some of those videos, as well as some additional memories that make the class of 2020 special.