Coming Together to Celebrate at a Distance

camcorder and Dr. Gotschall in regalia in front of CCC branded backdrop
CCC college president, Dr. Matt Gotschall, speaks in front of the camera recording his message to the graduates for virtual graduation.

Virtual Graduation, this is a concept you might not have thought about before the year 2020. Graduation is a time to celebrate all the accomplishments and sacrifices that have taken place throughout ones educational journey. With the onset of the pandemic it became clear that an in-person graduation would not go on as normal. A team of nine was assembled to make CCC’s graduates commencement a memorable one; Dr. Beth Pryzmus (dean of student success), Amanda Groff (director of marketing), Tiffany Seybold (web content specialist), Mike Garretson (media producer), Andrea Hays (activities director), Margret Treffer (registration technician), Brenda Preister (academic success center coordinator), Emily Gildresleeve (assessment coordinator) and myself Cheri Beda (alumni director). 

Willie Kilgore sits at the driver seat of a van loaded full of graduation boxes.

This was a time to be creative and resilient, a great deal of time, effort and planning goes into each commencement ceremony so redirecting that into a memorable online experience was the goal. We decided as a group to send celebration boxes to each of our graduates who were receiving a degree or diploma, inside these boxes were a letter of congratulations, an alumni t-shirt, CCC sticker, gift card and any earned recognitions such as honor medallions and cords. These boxes were assembled on the Columbus Campus by a small group who packed exactly 1100 of them! These were a surprise to the graduates. 

Staff filling graduation boxes.

In addition to the boxes the graduating students were sent an e-mail asking them to send in a picture for online commencement. Many students sent in pictures representing their major, it did not need to be professional. In addition to our students we had three outstanding alumni to celebrate representing our three campus locations. The 2020 CCC outstanding alums: Hastings Campus: Carol Welke (1976), Grand Island: Nia Karmann (2010),and Columbus: Jake Dilsaver (2005). Each of them was willing to be flexible, open to change and do what it took to make virtual graduation a success. They each created a video from their home, sharing how their CCC education has impacted their life and giving words of inspiration to the class of 2020 (see their stories on pages 20-22). On June 2nd, 2020 virtual graduation went live on CCC’s main site. Dr. Matt Gotschall provided an official address to the students and the division deans provided words of congratulations to the graduates. It all came together beautifully and provided a special recognition for graduates during unusual times. You are invited to visit the online graduation. You can watch our Outstanding Alumni Videos, write a message of congratulations on a graduates wall and celebrate with the 1100 students who received a degree or diploma. 

CCC graduation webpage collage. The different images show the links to pages including the 2020 graduation home page, social media celebration page and example of student acknowledgment page.

Screen shot of CCC Facebook post on graduation day from CCC with link to virtual graduation ceremony. Screen shot of CCC Facebook post of box graduates received in the mail.