ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Claflin University to host graduation virtually for the second time.
"I was looking forward to walking across the stage, being able to decorate my cap and toss it in the air with all of my classmates," said Amari Thompson. "Unfortunately, with COVID, we couldn't do that."
Thompson is graduating from Claflin university on November 21st, but it's not going to be the traditional ceremony. The university talked with students about having an in-person ceremony; they didn't feel comfortable with that option.
The university took headshots of the 160 graduates and recorded the ceremony. On Saturday, you can watch the video on the school's Youtube channel as each student is announced.
"It can't replace walking on the stage to receive your diploma, and your family is there to see this milestone moment," said VP of Administration, Drexel B. Ball. "But in this environment, we thought going virtual was the best option."
Drexel Ball is also the co-chair of the commencement committee. He says to get to this point; the university had to start the semester early and cut fall break to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
It's not the traditional ceremony that Thompson was expecting, but she says the pandemic has taught her two life lessons.
"I would never have thought I couldn't go outside freely," explained Thompson. "Now, I have to wear a mask all the time. Another thing the pandemic taught me was to take care of yourself. Because it is tough to slip into be stress and alone, so self-care has been important these past 11 months."