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UNC celebrates class of 2021 with in-person Commencement ceremonies

Owen Scrudders, Madison McClellan, Markus Haig, and Kevin Barth pose for a photo at their commencement ceremony in Chapel Hill on Saturday May 15, 2021. Photo courtesy of Civitella Witzke.

UNC hosted five in-person Commencement ceremonies for the class of 2021 last weekend at Kenan Stadium. The ceremonies, lasting 75 minutes each, were separated by major and followed COVID-19 guidelines.

The speakers for each ceremony included Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Kizzmekia Corbett ‘14, Senior Class President Chris Suggs and Vice President Tamiya Troy.

Senior Madison McClellan, who graduated from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, said she enjoyed Guskiewicz's speech.

“He did a great job connecting his speech to all UNC students, especially highlighting memorable experiences like spending time on the quad and rushing Franklin Street,” she said. “I also loved how he ended with a Roy Williams quote.”

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin said it was an honor to have Fauci and Corbett as guest speakers, and that they reflect the role the UNC community has had on COVID-19 research.

“Carolina is world-renowned for its work on coronaviruses, which has led to life-saving treatments, important diagnostic advancements and vaccines that we see in use today. North Carolina — and the world — is safer because of this work," he said. 

Due to the pandemic, the class of 2020 has not had an in-person Commencement ceremony. The University announced in March that last year's graduates will be celebrated during a reunion and Commencement weekend in October.

Anna Castellano, a member of the class of 2020, said that while this year's graduating class had a more traditional experience, it still was not the same as previous years.

“From what I heard, a lot of people were upset about the class of 2021 having an in-person graduation, but it was still pretty different,” Castellano said. “We all missed out on many traditions.”

At all of the ceremonies last weekend, graduates sat 6 feet apart on the field, and their guests sat in socially distanced groups in the stands.

Graduate Jacy Chapmon said she had four family members in attendance — the maximum number of guest tickets students were able to request when they registered for Commencement.

McClellan said that despite it not being a traditional Commencement with the whole graduating class together in the stadium, she was happy with the experience.

“It was still a great ceremony because our family and people we have worked with throughout the years were together,” she said.

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