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The Quarantine Files - Graduation: A "Virtual" Reality

Student Life - The Quarantine Files - Graduation: A "Virtual" Reality
An interview with Brian Bator (Student Life) and Javon Brame (Dean of Students)

Well it has come to that time of the year again, graduation. It’s a time when friends and family gather to party and celebrate your accomplishments. You get to get dressed up like a (purple) trash bag, with a personal pan sized pizza box sewn onto a beanie, while underneath, you are dressed to the nines! (unless you are like me and rock some cut-off camo-shorts and t-shirt.) Anyway, it’s always a bittersweet time to see our students leave us but new adventures are nothing to fear. Easier said than done sometimes eh? It’s ok, we believe in you.

If you haven’t heard by now, we are still holding commencement on the May 18th...virtually! I know, I know, but what did I just say about new adventures!? To help us understand what this “virtual” reality will look like I have asked our Dean of Students, Javon Brame to join us for this edition of the Quarantine Files. To help us be clear moving forward, let’s define Commencement and Graduation.

Commencement = the ceremony celebrating you earning your degree or certificate
Graduation = earning your degree or certificate

Brian Bator: First of all, Javon, thank you for taking this time out of your busy schedule to chat with us! I know you definitely have a lot going on, as always! So, beyond your ACC duties what have you been doing to stay busy?

Javon Brame: I am always excited to get to engage with students no matter the method! Thank you for inviting me to share this space with you. All ACC employees have been working extremely hard to provide the best possible experiences for our students. Outside of work, I have really been following the stay at home orders. My personal schedule includes Netflix, one hour of news a day, meal prepping meals for the week and communicating with family and friends through zoom parties. I also do travel to the grocery stores, who ever thought the grocery store would become such an experience?

BB: So, let’s talk Virtual Commencement. First, I need to say I think that it’s really awesome that even though we are dealing with everything in the world, ACC found a way to still make this happen. That being said… what’s this all about? I hear it and instantly my brain cuts to watching my screen and hearing “Class of 2020, Joel Goodsen,” followed by a young Tom Cruise sliding across the screen in his socks and undies.

JB: Well, let me say that all of us would prefer to be in a big arena watching our students cross that stage and celebrate their accomplishments, but it just is not possible with the guidelines laid out to protect everyone’s health and well-being. ACC’s virtual commencement will be in the form of a website released to students on May 18th. The website will include speeches from our Chancellor and President, as well as, remarks from our faculty of the year. Each graduate was invited to upload a photo and personal message that will appear on the site. We have also hired professional vocal artists to record each student’s name that registered to participate. Students will be able to download their section of the site and share it on social media. Students can also share this information with their families and friends. An important thing to note is that the class of 2020 will have the option to participate in the 2021 in person commencement ceremony should we be permitted to gather in large scale by that time.

BB: Are there going to be some quarantine pics!? Do we get to see you sitting at home in full regalia?

JB: That would be hilarious. There will be no quarantine pictures of me on the site, but some of the student photo submissions are quite entertaining and creative.

BB: I heard a rumor that there is a special treat for the graduates is that true?

JB: Graduates who submitted their address will receive a special commencement kit in the mail from ACC. While we could not be with students, we did want to do something special to help them celebrate their day. That’s all the information I can share at this time. More to come…

BB: Some students appear to be concerned they will not get their diploma since graduation is virtual this year. That’s not true. Can you explain how and when you physically get the paper?

JB: So this is a common misconception. A lot of people believe that you actually get your diploma at commencement when you walk across the stage, that is not the case. Even if we were in person, students would not receive their diplomas until four to six weeks after the ceremony once final grades have been entered and final degree audits are completed. Students will then receive their official ACC diploma or certificate in the mail.

BB: Graduation applications. Let’s say I am a student who applied to graduate this semester (or even summer), but the remote/online switch is causing me to delay my timeline to complete my courses. Do I need to re-apply or what do I do?

JB: Most students should be able to finish their courses in the summer term. We are encouraging students to work with their instructors and advisors to do everything they can to successfully complete their courses. You may think you don’t have it in you, but we know you can do it. If you are not able to complete the courses that are required to complete your degree you can apply for graduation again on your new timeline.  

This will be pretty cool! Different, but cool. I know some of you are still bummed about this, but let’s try to look on the bright side, we can try something different! I challenge you all out there participating in commencement as a graduate, viewer, family, friend, faculty and staff or whatever, to take this one step further. Start a Watch party and share it!  I’m sure you have all, at one time or another, seen some footage of a college athlete getting drafted to the big leagues who didn’t actually attend the draft, but is going nuts with his family and friends when his name was called from home. Why can’t we celebrate each other in a similar fashion? Take a photo or video of your watch parties and share it with us on social media! Tag @arapahoe_cc on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtag #ACCGRAD2020.

Learn more about Commencement