ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Claflin University's graduating Class of 2021 is set to walk the stage on Saturday. Students say they've been on the edge of their seats for this moment since the pandemic canceled in-person ceremonies last year.
"My mom pushed me to graduate in three years, so I said this is for her," said Marquel Sanders. "I would like her to experience this moment with me.
"After coming back to college for so many years, it was kind of a disappointment," explained Class of 2020 graduate Annette M. Jensen. "At the same time, it was kind of exciting because we had a virtual graduation. It was hard because I did most of my work with Claflin online, and all of the ceremonies that surrounded it was going to allow us to meet."
University president Dr. Dwaun Warmack says there will be two ceremonies at Claflin's gym to recognize this year's class and last year's.
"Each graduate only has three tickets," Dr. Warmack said. "We will follow all CDC guidelines, and there will be mandatory masks plus temperature checks before coming into the building. Our facility holds about 2,000 people, but the max we will have will be a little over 600."
Marquel Sanders is graduating with a marketing degree. He says he is excited to share this rite of passage with his loved ones.
"The rest of my family will be watching for the house," said Sanders. "We just bought a big screen tv for the family. Immediately after graduation, we will be having a family gathering for those who couldn't attend."