Thomas Nelson students in the Class of 2021 understood the reality of their graduation ceremony being virtual - after all, it no longer is a novel experience. However, they wanted an in-person aspect this year, and the Student Government Association suggested a drive-thru parade on the Hampton campus in the late afternoon and early evening.
It was a fitting end to a long day of celebrations as more than 50 students decorated their cars with signs, balloons, streamers and more as they drove from the Peninsula Workforce Development Center through campus, passing waving faculty, administrators and staff along the way.
Alicia Riley, the Special Events manger for the College, said she received numerous messages from students who were appreciative of the parade.
The day began with virtual commencement at 10 a.m. The College produced a dozen videos. The main graduation ceremony video was about 50 minutes, and the last 10 featured personal messages from more than 60 students offering thanks to their teachers, friends and family members. Among those addressing the students in the video were Dr. Porter Brannon, president of Thomas Nelson; Mike Kuhns, chair of the Thomas Nelson College Board; SGA president Elizabeth Yimer, as well as the President and Vice President award winners, Erin Davis and Britney Jolly, respectively.
Each of the three academic divisions (Arts, Business, Humanities and Social Science; Public Safety, Allied Health and Human Services; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) had a separate video where student names were read and a photo or personal message was included.
The five graduation speakers also had separate videos, ranging from 6 ½ minutes to just more than 10.
All the videos, which had more than 1,500 total views within 24 hours of being posted, are available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe5eyf70Y8ozUb2OlGVHEMg.
There were a number of celebrations highlighting students the week leading up to commencement. Among them were ceremonies for TRiO students, nurses and a special group of dual enrollment students from Phoebus High School.
On May 7, TRiO celebrated the graduation of 43 students, who earned degrees in, among others, cybersecurity, forensics, international studies, kinesiology, management, microbiology, pre-med, and psychology. The schools the students are heading to include Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, Concordia University in Irvine, Calif., and Tidewater Community College. A few students still haven’t decided what schools they will attend next.
A virtual pinning ceremony for nurses on the Hampton campus was held May 8, with 40 graduates. It can be viewed at tncc.edu, and is one of the most viewed videos the College produced in the past week.
One day before Thomas Nelson’s virtual spring commencement, an in-person ceremony was held for dual enrollment students in Phoebus High School’s Academy of Advanced College Experience (ACE). The event was held at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center, with social distancing guidelines in effect. Twenty-four students (two could not make the ceremony) received a Governor’s Scholar Medallion in special recognition of them earning an associate degree before receiving their high school diploma. A video of the event also is available on YouTube.