SDSU hosts first-ever virtual graduation

by Jadyn Brandt and Katelynn Robinson

San Diego State University’s graduating class of 2020 traded Viejas Arena for their living rooms on May 16 as they took part in the university’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony.

After classes were switched from in-person to an online format due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university made the decision – alongside the 22 other schools in the California State University system –to hold graduation online as well. 

The virtual ceremony featured speeches from many SDSU alumni including San Diego Padres Co-Owner Ron Fowler and former CEO of Costco Jim Senegal. 

Brian Dutcher, who coached SDSU’s men’s basketball team to a historic season, also congratulated the class of 2020 as did the Show Grandmas and the team’s starting point guard Malachi Flynn. 

To close out the ceremony, Associated Students President Christian Onwuka addressed his fellow graduates and led the class of 2020 in a virtual turning of their tassels.

Glad for the opportunity to speak to his classmates, Onwuka said he wanted to use his speech to close out a tumultuous year.

“(The speech) gave me an opportunity I think to provide closing to this in regards to everything that is happening this being a very different year and this not being what we are accustomed to,” he said. “I think this was like a sense of normalcy and it gave an opportunity to still celebrate the graduation in a way that would still be received well and people would still have the opportunity to spend it with their families.” 

Despite the virtual setting and uncertain future, Onwuka said he wanted to tell the graduating class to keep an optimistic outlook. 

“I think for me what inspired me was I wanted to tell my graduates something that I would want to hear because right now I am not trying to be all sappy,” Onwuka said. “I don’t want to say ‘oh everything is going to be okay’ because we don’t know.”

Spring 2020 graduates are invited to return to campus in December, to join fall graduates in an official commencement ceremony.