Highline is having a virtual commencement this year due to the COVID-19 virus.
Since no large gatherings are allowed, as ordered by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Highline’s commencement ceremony will be virtual this year.
This virtual commencement will take place via Zoom, June 11 at 5 p.m. Those wanting to attend this celebration for graduates should go to this website https://registration.highline.edu/student-records/commencement/, and there will be a Zoom link there to attend.
Before the decision was made to have a virtual commencement, graduating students were asked how they would prefer to have their commencement ceremony.
Some of the options include not having one, rescheduling to hold it at a later time, and a virtual commencement.
“Utilizing those results [from the survey], we found that a virtual commencement would be the most feasible due to not knowing how this pandemic will continue to impact us,” said Thomas Bui, the Center for Leadership and Service director.
Highline also chose to have a virtual commencement so the graduating students could still be recognized and celebrated.
“Graduating from school is a milestone, and accomplishment for our students at Highline and while it was a difficult decision to make, virtual commencement was the most feasible option that allowed us to celebrate our student’s achievements,” Bui said.
Because of this, the original ceremony, which would have been at the ShoWare Center in Kent, will instead be virtual via Zoom.
To change from a physical location to a virtual one for the ceremony, many things have had to happen and change.
This includes how students register and RSVP for graduation, to getting speakers at commencement.
“There are changes in every facet of commencement to be able to celebrate our students virtually and during this pandemic,” Bui said.
These changes also mean that students have to do things, they otherwise would not.
Since students are unable to walk at commencement, “participating graduating students have the opportunity to upload a photo, check their name spelling, degree, and add a quote that will all be taken and turned into a slide,” Bui said.
When the students’ name is called, this slide will be shown.
As far as how the students' will get their degrees, “Students will receive their degrees in the mail,” Bui said.
Students should make sure their address is correct so their degrees can be delivered to the right place.
To do this, “Students can log in to their online student services portal to make sure their address is up to date,” Bui said.
Another aspect of the commencement ceremony are the speakers.
“Many of Highline’s speakers are consistent every year due to the role they hold on campus. For example, the chair of our Board of Trustees, college president, and student body president all make an address at commencement every year,” Bui said.
However, there are two additional speakers that change from year to year. The distinguished alumnus speaker, which is chosen by alumni relations in partnership with Highline, and a graduating student speaker.
The student speaker has to apply and go through an interview process with the ASHC Student Government. The ASHC student government also chooses who the student speaker will be.
This year’s student speaker is a personal fitness trainer student named Melissa Oday.
When picking a student speaker, there is a lot to take into consideration, Bui said. This year was different than other years when it came to applying and interviewing, but there are some things that didn’t change, such as what they look for when picking a speaker.
“A few things that we consider from year to year include the students’ passion for speaking, willingness to speak about their experiences, readiness of speech by the time they interview (this was highly important this year due to the short turnaround time), and so much more,” Bui said.