The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Virtual commencement returns with a new wrinkle

by T.Walker Staff Reporter Jun 09, 2021

Due to the success of last year’s virtual commencement, Highline will be holding a virtual commencement ceremony and a cross-the-stage event on June 17.

Thomas Bui, director of the Center for Leadership & Service at Highline, said that there is a difference between graduation and commencement. 

“Graduation is the act of receiving your degree, certificate, or diploma after you have finished all course requirements,” he said.

“Commencement is the ceremony held each June to honor all of that year’s graduates,” he said.

Because everything shifted to be remote and virtual last year, Highline needed to find a way to keep the excitement for the commencement ceremony, so they came up with the idea of a virtual/drive up commencement ceremony. 

“Our institution had to quickly adapt to create something that would still provide the feeling of celebration for our 2020 graduates virtually,” Bui said. 

“We are grateful for how successful that event was last year and have used that as a foundation and model for our ceremony this year,” he said.

This year, Highline will be changing its model from last year to allow for a more “back to normal” experience. 

“We are excited to enhance our drive-thru from last year into a Cross-the-Stage event, where graduates will be able to come to campus to receive their diploma cover,” Bui said.

With every success, there are some challenges, but Highline is ready to face them and make improvements upon them, Bui said. 

“This year we have been able to work out the little challenges that existed with doing our first ever virtual commencement last year,” Bui said. 

Highline has improved the interface they used in the past for applications and improved upon pro uploads for graduates, to make the experience smoother and easy to navigate.

Last year, 700 students participated in the virtual commencement ceremony and over 400 participated in the diploma cover pick up. This trend is expected to continue this year with 300 already confirmed to participate, and an anticipated double over the next week.

The commencement ceremony is not required to graduate, but it is a way to celebrate the successful completion of a course. But in order to actually get the diploma and cross the stage, graduation applications must be completed. 

In order to participate in the commencement ceremony, students had to complete the graduation application, RSVP for the Cross the Stage event, upload their information to the Envision Pro Portal, purchase regalia (graduation gowns), and purchase photos with Highline’s commencement photographer, Darel Roa Photography (not required).

The due date for graduation applications was May 28, and the date to RSVP for the commencement ceremony was June 8, so if you have not applied for graduation and completed all the necessary requirements, you can watch the commencement ceremony when it is uploaded in the near future.

For more information, you can check out the commencement page at , or send an email to either for the commencement details or for graduation application questions.