The Class of 2020 Celebrates Graduation Online Instead Of Walking Across The Stage

May 19, 2020
Originally published on May 19, 2020 8:21 pm
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For the class of 2020, college graduation is anything but traditional. For many, it's been downright anticlimactic.

MADDIE COLE: I never in a million years thought that I wouldn't get to walk across the stage after graduating college.


Maddie Cole (ph) graduated from American University earlier this month - virtually. The university prerecorded a graduation video. The names of more than 2,000 grads flashed across the screen.

SHAPIRO: The commencement speaker, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was sympathetic.


HENRY LOUIS GATES JR: Let's be honest. You had something else entirely in mind for the event we're commemorating today. No one could've imagined this scenario that we're living through - maybe my friend Stephen King, but that's about it.

SHAPIRO: Maddie Cole and her boyfriend did wear blue gowns, toss their caps in the air and drink some celebratory beers.

KELLY: Other seniors were surprised with drive-by graduations.


KELLY: A small gaming nod for Georgia Tech graduates - you could have your Animal Crossing character wear Tech regalia.

SHAPIRO: Some of the biggest celebrities in the country are trying to support the nearly 2 million people in the class of 2020. Facebook hosted a graduation ceremony with appearances from Malala, Cardi B and even Oprah.


OPRAH WINFREY: You've been dreaming about that walk across the stage, your family and friends cheering you on - woop (ph), woop - the caps flung joyously in the air.

NIOSHA GREG: I don't even care if at this point it's in a high school auditorium. I would still go and celebrate. I don't care if there's one person in the auditorium or a hundred people. But to walk across that stage would mean the world to me.

KELLY: Niosha Greg (ph) - she's graduating from the City University of New York next week. She still plans to wear her burgundy cap and gown as she graduates on a computer screen. But living in New York City during the coronavirus has left her feeling anxious at a time when she should be feeling joy.

GREG: I definitely think there's probably, like, a recession coming or something like that. And that's scary to think that that's what I'm graduating into.

SHAPIRO: Well, class of 2020, we know this is a time like no other. And today, we here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED raise a glass to you. Congratulations.

KELLY: Woohoo (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.