The University of Michigan released its 2020 winter commencement videos Saturday, celebrating the new graduates and applauding their achievements. 

The ceremony, which was held virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, featured many visual components, including online messages from University President Mark Schlissel. The commencement page also incorporated words from Provost Susan Collins and the deans. 

“The advice I’d offer our graduates is to be open to serendipity,” Schlissel said. “Up to this stage in your life, you’ve been able to be very planful. But when you get out into the world, things happen. Be open to them, think about them and try to use them to your advantage.” 

For some students, an online graduation is a hard reality to accept. Now-graduate Alyssa Cutter described the graduation as anticlimactic. 

“It really doesn’t feel real to me,” Cutter said. “The moment that graduation sinks in is when you wear your cap and gown and sit in an auditorium with all your peers. Right now it kind of feels like nothing has changed, and I’m just waiting for that moment.” 

Individual departments also highlighted the graduates through online messages, applauding their resilience in tough times and urging them to move forward even stronger. School of Nursing Dean Patricia Hurn posted a recorded video clip with a congratulatory message. 

“You will always mark the moment of this graduation,” Hurn said. “Not just for your success in finishing your degree, but for the many other lessons that you dared to learn while you were here.”

To continue the celebration, the Michigan Marching Band recorded a halftime video titled “No Place Like HoMe” and the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs posted a video singing the University’s official alma mater. 

Filmic Productions, a student organization that creates films of students across campus, captured a video titled “What is a Victor?” that told stories of individual University students. Michigan Photography, the official University photographer group, also shared pictures documenting what it is like to be a University student during the pandemic.

“I think it was really nice that the University put something out there,” Cutter said. “But the one thing I was missing was a live component — everyone being there together. I know some colleges even did Zoom ceremonies. It would have been nice to have something a little more targeted to individuals.”

Winter 2020 graduates were urged to submit their own photos by email and tag #MGoGrad in their social media posts. U-M Social also created filters and frames for students to use on photos. 

Now-graduate Eric Johnson advises future graduates to enjoy their time at the University while it lasts. 

“You should really try to cherish what you have left,” Johnson said. “You never know what’s going to be the last time you do something. Appreciate what you have going on in the moment.”

Daily Staff Reporter Ashna Mehra can be reached at ashmehra@umich.edu.

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