Live Virtual Graduation Allowed for Personalized Commencement Experiences

Dr. Joseph Shepard, who is President of Western New Mexico University, tosses his cap during the university’s virtual commencement.

© Western New Mexico University

One hundred Western New Mexico University graduates received diplomas during the university’s virtual commencement ceremony, which was held live on Friday, May 29.

The event allowed each participant to have 15 seconds in the spotlight. Graduates used this time to celebrate and receive their diplomas from loved ones, children, pets and even fellow graduates.

Members of the class of 2020 designed their own cap and gown ensembles, improvised hoods, created their own diplomas, and selected the venues of their choice. Some attended from locales such as Hawaii and Belize while others attended from their living rooms. Some received homemade diplomas from their husbands — others from their dogs. Children were included in ways not possible during in-person ceremonies.

In real time, graduates first heard remarks from WNMU student body president Brenda Hernandez, who also received a degree, and from members of the WNMU board of regents.

After the conferrals of degrees, WNMU Provost and Vice President Dr. Jack Crocker asked graduates to switch their tassels.
Then, the participants were spotlighted one by one as their names were called.

About 350 students earned degrees from WNMU this spring. Whether they did or did not participate, all have the option to walk in a future in-person commencement.

Graduates attended over Zoom, while guests attended through live video streams on and Facebook.

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