Students' virtual graduation celebrations begin

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_S-olrn4bb/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_XrZZ6FVi8/?igshid=1cgjncg1vbdck
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_QYoGAptc9/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_GQZrwn8lh/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Xp8WSgff5/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Xb9nFoUE_/

https://twitter.com/KLonchar/status/1253193270894555136

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_U-xphJnLa/?igshid=j2heq4hjzcjc
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_XonZHHHsL/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_S98yGg7qU/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B9uLNNfF1LB/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B90F2SkHdUc/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_V099upRKB/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-ppu6Vph7m/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-8Qztyn5cG/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-X7ga9Fb0T/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_VG-lNARUy/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_IlSXoDEM1/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B-A22ANldUu/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B95czuIJg8O/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_VoJkJpFFV/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_XonIWgJnT/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B_Vs6zSnF8q/

https://www.facebook.com/longlivedante/videos/1705045802970878/
https://www.facebook.com/mary.k.roth.92/posts/10219432067983910
https://www.facebook.com/mjacquez32/posts/10158346168150522
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=978207789267553&id=100012350221199

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

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