Students’ virtual graduation celebrations begin

April 24, 2020 / by / 0 Comment

GCU worship ministry major Bailey Drake celebrates the end of her last class.

GCU News Bureau

After four years of climbing, Grand Canyon University‘s students have reached the pinnacle of their academic studies and have earned their degrees: something not even a virus could stop.

While COVID-19 has put a roadblock on the ceremonial celebration of those accomplishments by forcing schools to postpone their Commencement ceremonies (including at GCU), it hasn’t deterred the proud students, their families and friends from celebrating from home today — the day that they were to walk the stage (April 30-May 1 for nontraditional students).

Social media already has been peppered with photographs of graduating Lopes in their caps and gowns reminiscing about their time here and embracing it, even if the last few weeks haven’t been how they imagined it would be.

Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students, reminisced right along with them in his video address to graduates: “It wasn’t that long ago that you were making your way across campus to your first classroom and, as you walked through that door, you had to make a really important decision,” he said, though that vital decision didn’t have anything to do with, “What major do I choose?” or “Should I pursue a minor?” “That (decision) was, do I sit in the front? Eh, maybe I’ll sit in the back. And you thought, ‘Hey! To get things started, I’ll just start right in the middle.”

But after seemingly endless tests and quizzes and turning in homework at 11:59 p.m., one minute before the midnight deadline, Griffin said, “you finished your program of study at Grand Canyon University.”

Sam Yonan, President of the Associated Students of GGU, addressed his fellow graduates earlier this week via Instagram about the end of their journey and what lies ahead.

Sam Yonan, ASGCU president, addresses his fellow grads on Instagram.

“As soon we can, as soon as it’s safe, GCU is committed to having the graduation and Commencement ceremony for our Class of 2020,” Yonan said. “We’re looking at current dates in October, November and December to best celebrate and accommodate our graduates, our students and our families that will be coming at that time.

“We’re continuing to work with our student leaders, and we’re watching this virus as it takes its course to see the best direction to take to secure the safety of our students, of our families and of our faculty and staff for such a celebration. … We are continuing to pray for every one of you, and we cannot wait for the time we can all be together again.”

The talk kicked off a campaign Wednesday on social media to honor the University’s graduates with a weeklong celebration that will include not just video addresses and prayers from Griffin, but videos from students and Dr. Hank Radda, Provost. The team also has uploaded “I graduated from GCU” graphics for students to share.

The social media team is requesting video submissions to [email protected] that spotlight how students, their families and friends celebrated their graduation. Videos turned in by Sunday may be featured by the team in a “How I Celebrated From Home” video to be published April 30.

The weeklong social media celebration will wrap up on May 1.

Worship ministry major Bailey Drake just last week thought back on her time at GCU on her Instagram page: “I thought I would have more time to say goodbye to all the friends and clubs I hold so dear to my heart (I had already started thinking about what I was going to say to all of them). And then … well, you know what happened next.

“We’ve all had our worlds turned upside down. Things are not what they used to be. I’ve learned many things from this quarantine, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I should never take (for granted) my time at college. Every time I got food with a friend, every Thursday night spent at @cya.valleyview and even every time I would fall asleep on the couch watching ‘Friends’ is a blessing from God and moments I won’t soon forget.

“To my dear, dear family and friends, I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful and supportive people you are. Thank you for the journey. Lord, Your blessings are indescribable, and I’m thankful for them now more than ever. Thirty-eight weeks down, one more to go.”

Griffin also spoke about blessings in his video address.

“Now it’s time to move into the next chapter of your life,” he said. “God bless you as you leave these halls and move to the next thing that God has for you. We’re praying for his richest blessings on you as you go.”

Here’s a sampling of a few Tweets and Instagram posts conveying the excitement of the time, with more to come on Monday as the celebrations continue. They will have to hold us over until the University can join together in person for Commencement in the fall.



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Welp. That’s a wrap, folks. In the most anticlimactic ending, I received my Masters in Elementary Education. 👩🏻‍🎓 I started this program in March 2018 when I was 6 months pregnant with Mila. I knew two years would go by quickly but I didn’t think it would be this fast! This journey was hard and exhausting with no breaks in between classes. I did it while learning how to be a mama with a newborn, only being able to do homework when she napped or late in the evenings. And I did it. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support, love and encouragement from my family, especially, my husband David, who held it down and has supported my goals from day one. THANK YOU! 💕 To anyone who is looking for a sign to make a change in their life, take COVID-19 as your sign to waste no more time and take that leap of faith. The timing will never be good. You will always have bills. There will always be an excuse. DO👏🏼IT👏🏼ANYWAYS👏🏼 You won’t regret it. Congratulations to the Quarantined Class of 2020! We did it! 🎓 🎉 Now to apply for my GA teacher license and GET THAT JOB!📚✏️ #gcu #gculopes #gcugraduation #gcu2020 #mastersdegree #elementaryeducation #elementaryteacher #ididit #classof2020 #quarantinegraduation @gcu @gcu_coe #golopes

A post shared by Jersey Peach Designs – Laura (@jerseypeachdesigns) on

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I’ve spent the last few days sulking in how sad I am that my senior year isn’t ending the way I thought it would. Very quickly my attitude shifted from being negative, to being overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude. 4 years ago my life drastically changed when I uprooted my life and moved to AZ. I embraced the change and uncertainties knowing that God would guide me each step of the way, but little did I know just how good he was going to be to me. I was able to pursue my dream of being a collegiate cheerleader for one of the top programs in the country thanks to my coaches who chose me and continued to do so time and time again @emyjstephens & @ohkeegs and for that I’ll always be thankful. I met my life-long friends, and I was gifted fantastic role models. Although this isn’t the way I imagined senior year ending, it truly doesn’t matter, because the impact the past 4 years had is so much better than these inconveniences. The same God who changed my life is still present through the storms that we’re really facing, and I know he will continue to work for the good. It’s been the ride of my life GCU, thank you and #LopesOut

A post shared by Lindsey Relerford (@lindseyrelerford) on

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Graduation Countdown: 9 hours 50 mins 59 seconds 🎓 •After 4 long years of exhaustion, pulling all nighters, nights of crying, commuting everyday to campus, working 3 jobs at once while going to school, studying for finals, gaining experience, meeting every deadline, moving, I can say these 4 long years was worth the wait and I can finally say I am a college GRADUATE 👩🏽‍🎓 !!!!! •Although my journey here at GCU was cut early (online) due to unforeseen circumstances, I was still determined to finish the semester strong! With graduation cancelled, I do feel sad that I don’t get to walk across that stage with my fellow classmates and hear my family scream while they announce my name. But due to this pandemic, it opened my eyes and showed me that all things happen for a reason. Even though I don’t get to attend my commencement, I know God has bigger plans for me but for now all I can do is thank him for all he has done by leading me on the right path to success and graduating with my Bachelors here at GCU! •I also want to thank my parents for believing in me and guiding me, I honestly couldn’t do it without them! My parents have seen it all when it came to endless nights of studying, cramming all my work to meet deadlines, days and nights of me crying because all I wanted to do was pass, going to school at day and working at night, emailing professors when my work didn’t get the acknowledgement it needed, missing certain events to get my school work done, and going to the extent to gain that experience to build my resume. They have seen and been right there with me through it ALL and I really just want to take the time to thank my wonderful and caring parents. Couldn’t do it without y’all, WE did it ❤️ •Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path” ~Psalms 119:105 NEXT STOP 🔜 M. B. A With that, I cannot express how excited I am to be continuing my education at GCU and pursuing my Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in Sports Business. See you in May!!!

A post shared by cece ✨ (@itss_cece24) on

So this time today I would be walking the stage at my graduation! It sucks that I don't get to BUT I'm grateful for the last 4 years and all the amazing things I've experienced and accomplished as well as people that I met along the way. #lopesout🤘 🦌 *I do not own the rights to this music*

Posted by Joshua Easley on Friday, April 24, 2020

SHE DID IT!!!Congratulations Alexandra Roth Grand Canyon University Graduation class of 2020Major in Forensic Science,…

Posted by Mary Kay Roth on Friday, April 24, 2020

Happy graduation day 🎓 Gabrielle Nichole Maynes you have no idea how extremely proud I am of you. Today did not go as we…

Posted by Michelle Jacquez on Friday, April 24, 2020

My Nina Mayra Enriquez makes me feel special all the way from AZ 🥰 Thank you for my lawn sign!! Love you💜 (I look like a mad woman, courtesy of quarantine🤪) #GCU2020

Posted by Maritza Martinez on Thursday, April 23, 2020











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