MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Saturday, graduates of The University of Memphis whose ceremonies were sidelined by COVID-19 this spring, summer, and fall, will get a chance to walk across the graduation stage. The university has scheduled multiple outdoor ceremonies at the Liberty Bowl.
“I think it’s just amazing to be able to come together, be able to see everyone in their gowns,” Aisha Naantaanbuu, a U of M grad and WMC Action News 5 web contributor, said.
Naantaanbuu says she is looking forward to walking across the graduation stage at the Liberty Bowl Saturday to get her master’s degree in sociology. The University of Memphis is hosting three ceremonies to accommodate its spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates.
Prior commencement events this year have been online because of COVID-19. The university said seating is limited Saturday, and guests must have tickets to enter.
Students will get six tickets, and all graduates and attendees must wear masks. They’ll be seated in accordance with Shelby County Health Department social distancing guidelines.
“I was a little apprehensive at first with doing in-person commencement during COVID. But they do really seem like they have their safety guidelines laid out, like they’re really going to be spacing people out,” Naantaanbuu said. “I will have my mask on. My family will have their mask on. I think that we’re going to be ok.”
Dr. Steve Threlkeld at Baptist says when hosting a big event right now allowing adequate space outdoors is critical. But he said attendees can’t let their guard down, because we aren’t out of the woods yet.
“Being outdoors and spread out are very important factors,” he said. “You have to use everything at your disposal because we actually are so close to being rid of this thing.”
The university’s Liberty Bowl ceremonies are at 9 a.m, noon, and 3 p.m. The U of M has already concluded its fall semester because of COVID-19, with students already taking exams. The same is also true at CBU, who held some in-person classes this semester.