When our university told us that our graduation ceremony, oath ceremony, hooding and awards were going to be moved online, I don’t think any of us had much idea how that was going to materialize. They tried to get our input on the whole ordeal, but how do you contribute much ideas when this was probably the very first ever *virtual* veterinary school graduation?
They decided that our graduation would take place on Facebook Live, which immediately upset some people – for those did not have Facebook, and those that realized that a Facebook Live ceremony would mean that there would be no way for us to be virtually present, like some other conference-type platforms.
But beyond being on Facebook Live, we didn’t have much information on what would actually take place.
They sent us a ‘graduation in a box’, with our programs and some goodies to celebrate with during the ceremony, and we were to tune in on graduation day in the afternoon.
The ceremony started promptly with the Dean giving his opening address, introducing several speakers to congratulate both the DVM and veterinary nurse classes of 2020. The veterinary nursing students were virtually graduated first, with a screen of their favorite memories from school, their future plans, and their graduation pictures. For each veterinary nursing student, they were ‘virtually pinned’ with a graphic design (read: photoshop) of their composite on a graduation gown and the Dean pinning them.
A similar procedure occurred for the DVM students, with a response from one of our classmates, followed by a screen with our favorite vet school memories, future plans, baby pictures and graduation pictures and then a virtual hooding by the Dean with our headshot photoshopped for the hooding.
This was followed by the reciting of the Veterinarian’s Oath, which we were to do at home, and then the screen whizzing by with all the awards to class members for various achievements.
They encouraged us to raise a toast with sparkling cider they had sent us, and just like that, it was over.
I have a few thoughts on the whole process:
- Given the circumstances, I think that the administration did a decent job. Obviously, nothing could replace the gravitas of an actual ceremony, and with virtual being the only option, it was evident they did try.
- The photoshopping of the pinning and hooding was SUPER weird. Especially since the action was clearly on a loop, and the mannequin was shorter than the Dean (which is not the case for many of my classmates), it was borderline a little hokey.
- The amount of time on the screen for each graduate was *minimal*. There was either time to look at the favorite vet school memory, the future plans, or the pictures – definitely not all 3. The administration was trying hard to keep everything to an hour, but given that an actual graduation would’ve taken most of the day, I know a lot of people would’ve preferred an hour and a half or 2 hours, with the ability to actually read and see each graduate’s information.
- None of the award winners were read aloud. Our awards were mailed to us so we had them for the day of graduation, which was nice, but the awards were also very quickly buzzed by on the screen and no one was verbally recognized for their achievements.
- Lastly, I would’ve loved to see some way to have incorporated us for the veterinarian’s oath recitement. Whether that could’ve been us all calling in and reciting it live, or everyone pre-recording it and creating a mashup of the oath to play as a video or audio file, it would’ve felt more official than what we had standing in the living room.
Overall, I understand why it was done the way it was, but was left feeling a little less than whelmed (which I think would’ve been the sentiment no matter how it had turned out; getting gipped out of a graduation ceremony sucks, no matter how hard the administration had tried to make it up online).
I hope that no future classes have to have their graduation online and they can return to the proper level of celebration and pomp and circumstance next spring. However, I want to remind all my classmates and all DVM and veterinary nursing graduates in the class of 2020 that just because it was online does not diminish the amazing accomplishments we have achieved.
Hail Purdue, Go Boilermakers and a huge congratulations to the all the DVMs and veterinary nurses in the Class of 2020!