Summer graduates walk across the stage at Arkansas State University

Summer graduates walk across the stage at Arkansas State University
Summer graduates walk across the state at Arkansas State University. (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Pomp and Circumstance played Friday night at Arkansas State University to celebrate the Summer 2020 graduates of the university.

It was the first graduation to be held on campus, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

“In May, I said we would have graduation, even if we have to have it in the football stadium. Well, here we are,” A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said during the ceremony.

It was the first time graduation was held inside the stadium since 1986, but COVID-19 was the reason to move it out there Friday night.

Graduates set on the football field, six feet apart. Family and friends who had a ticket to attend the ceremony sat in the stands, also practicing social distancing.

Everyone had to wear a mask into the stadium and could only take it off when they were in their seats.

But, the virus did not stop the graduates for walking across the stage tonight.

Kyra Wright graduated to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program and said with COVID-19, this was a challenging year.

“Getting to this point was actually hard,” Wright said. “I’m in the OTA program so I was dealing with field work and cancellations due to COVID, but I persevered. So it’s been awesome, it’s very rewarding to have completed despite the pandemic.”

The ceremony was an abbreviated one due to being outside in the summer heat.

Chancellor Damphousse yielded most of his time to Friday night’s student speaker, Shanna Porterfield.

She said the graduates could not imagine when they began their journey that today would play out like it did, but through it all, the graduate persevered.

“Every graduate here today has earned their degree, and now has a story to tell future generations along side of them,” Porterfield said.

After her speech, the graduates heard their names called out, they walked across the stage, got their degree covers and walked out the stadium, graduates of Arkansas State University.

More graduates who were supposed to walk across the stage in May will get to do so at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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