Haywood Community College will be one of the few community colleges in the area holding in-person graduations.
Michael Colemen, HCC’s vice president of student services, said seven separate graduations will be held on May 13 and 14, an action necessary to follow COVID-19 protocols and still offer a chance for graduates to walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
“I don’t know of any other community college that’s doing this,” he said. “My mom is graduating at age 61 with a degree in computer information technology from Nash Community College in Rocky Mount and she’s very disappointed she won’t get to walk across the stage.”
Most graduations elsewhere will be virtual or drive thru, Coleman said.
HCC was able to figure out a way to make in-person graduation possible through a lot of perseverance. For the 2021 graduations, there will never be more than 45 students graduating, and each student will be able to give out five tickets for the event.
Students who need more tickets can get on a list in the event there are some students who opt out of the formal graduation or don’t have a need for all their tickets, Coleman said.
Students will be seated 6 feet apart on the left side of the auditorium, he explained, and there will be no formal practice.
“We did a fun video last week that shows Clyde the Bobcat (HCC’s mascot) going through the routine of graduating,” he said.
That, along with a congratulatory video from the HCC faculty, will be sent to budding graduates prior to the event as a way to help celebrate their accomplishment, Coleman said. A
dditionally, there will be a drive-thru graduation tentatively set for June 8 where students will be able to pick up their actual diploma since there is a lag time for the formal document to be prepared and will offer a chance for students who didn’t feel comfortable in the in-person event, Coleman added.
The in-person graduations will also be live-streamed.
The college did a student survey on the graduation options, and Coleman said they were well pleased with the plan.
“Breaking it up will allow us to have super social distancing,” he said, and we’ll require mask wearing. Everyone seems to be very, very satisfied with being able to walk across stage, have the traditional picture and have loved ones there to see them. We’ve had nothing but great comments from students and faculty.”
Each ceremony will be no more than 45 minutes, with one and a half hours in-between to set up for the next group. Traditional speeches from the college president and board chairman have been shortened and videotaped.
Here is the graduation schedule.
Thursday, May 13
4 – 4:45 – Medical Assisting Pinning/Graduation
6 – 7 – Nursing Pinning/Graduation
Friday, May 14
10 – 10:45 – College Transfer/ Natural Resources
Noon – 12:45 – Health & Human Services (minus Nursing & Med Assisting)
3 – 3:45 – Business & Industry
5 – 5:45 – College and Career Readiness
7 – 7:45 – Early College