MISSOULA — The oval at the University of Montana should be packed with graduates awaiting commencement but commencement looks a little different this year due to COVID-19 concerns.
The oval is empty, students have already graduated, and they are celebrating online with faculty and their families.
The University Administration had canceled formal commencement ceremonies and opted faculty to use virtual software to honor their graduates.
Lizz Dellinger is a graduate of UM with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts, and she says the virtual celebration was a great way for her to say goodbye to her favorite professors and tell them how they impacted her education at the university.
“Instead of lining up and doing the whole commencement thing, that’s traditional, I am kind of bummed I am missing it but, I was able to log on personally and individually, one on one with all my favorite professors and say ‘Hey this is what i enjoyed about your class, thanks for everything keep in touch,”’ said Dellinger.
Kevin Bell is the Director of Visual and Media Arts and he says the virtual ceremonies is the best way for students to be congratulated during times like these.
“It’s our best attempt at replicating the importance of culminating an educational experience for our graduates and our undergraduates," said Bell.
Dellinger says that her favorite part of the university is the teamwork within her classes throughout her four years.
“Making art with people and making movies with people from freshman year until senior year with the same exact group of people," said Dellinger.
Bell hoped that the graduates felt important during the virtual celebrations and to feel accomplished of their educational milestone
“Graduation celebrations are very important for students, it is a big milestone, it is a real important accomplishment, and the opportunity to say goodbye and extend wishes is a really important closure for the whole experience of going through school," said Bell.
Dellinger wanted to extend her congratulations to all the graduates of UM.
“I just want to say thanks to the university, congrats to the grads graduating this year, we’ve been through a lot but you should be proud of yourself," said Dellinger.
The university will be holding its virtual celebration for the graduates of the law school on May 16th.