CUH Graduates React to Fall Virtual Commencement


A behind the scenes look of the Fall 2020 virtual commencement. (Photo courtesy of Marissa Trent)

On Saturday, Dec. 12, Chaminade University of Honolulu will be hosting its first-ever virtual commencement due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The livestream on YouTube, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (HST), will be accessible to the graduates and their supporters with allotted times for the different major programs. For those that cannot make it, the stream will also be available after for on-demand watching.

There will be 698 graduates participating in the virtual ceremony and a majority of them finished their degree in May, according to Marissa Trent, CUH commencement chairwoman, on Nov. 19.

The CUH commencement planning board has moved the ceremonies to Saturday, instead of Monday like it has done in the past, in the hopes that more graduates can tune in and participate in their ceremony.

“We encourage students [graduates] to get engaged during their ceremony,” Trent said. “Take selfies and tag us in it, host Zoom/YouTube watch parties with their families, dress up in their commencement gear or throw around some confetti. This day is about our graduates, and we can’t wait to celebrate with them virtually.”

The decision to go virtual, though, has disappointed some graduates.

“A virtual commencement does not feel as special as a milestone,” said Shaylynne Dalmacio, a Business major who was originally supposed to graduate in May 2020. “It’s irreplaceable, just walking across the stage and receiving your diploma with family and friends cheering you on, that is a special milestone that’s best in-person.”

Like Dalmacio, Kevin Anderson, a Business major who completed his degree during Fall 2019, also wasn’t too pleased with the postponing of the May commencement.

Laura Hufano-Kravetz is ready to finally graduate, as she wears her cap and gown. (Photo courtesy of Laura Hufano-Kravetz)

“When I first found out that the May commencement got postponed, I was a bit annoyed because I finished classes in the fall term,” said the 23-year-old. “I already had to wait a semester to graduate because they stopped doing the fall ceremonies, but it was very understandable due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Celebrating graduation in December is nice because it’s during the holiday season, but it’s just been a long time that I’ve been out of school but still haven’t celebrated yet.”

Despite having to postpone the original May commencement, CUH is attempting to do what they can to make the milestone as traditional as an in-person commencement even with it being virtual. CUH has partnered with “StageClip,” the leading virtual ceremony software company, which will recognize the graduate individually during the live stream with their chosen graduation picture along with a special message or “shout out” to their friends and family members.

In addition to that special touch, CUH’s commencement board wanted to make this year’s commencement a remarkable one by splitting the different programs and schools into six separate ceremonies so that it could tailor that specific ceremony to the individuals represented at each respective ceremony. Graduates can also look forward to personalized messages from faculty, a specialized 2020 Snapchat filter, and a live-chat feature during the live stream, along with the standard commencement components with key speakers and speeches.

A December 2020 graduate, Donovan “DeLaney” Laney, feels grateful to be graduating and appreciative of Chaminade’s efforts to make the virtual commencement special. Her degree not only represents her achievements but also her mother, who contributed and paid for her degrees without any help from anyone else.

“I’m disappointed that it has to be virtual but I am fully aware that Chaminade is doing everything it can for its students both in celebration but mostly in safety,” said Laney, the 22-year-old double major in English and Psychology. “I’m really appreciative that they’re trying to give us a commencement anyway. I assume it’s going to be pleasant as I’ve seen some of the efforts that are going into it via Zoom such as the tassel turning and the opportunity for us to upload our own pictures and videos which is kind of neat because it’s not something you’re going to get out of an actual commencement. It provides the opportunity to show the character of the individual students [who are] graduating.”

Laura Hufano-Kravetz, a Criminology and Criminal Justice major and Psychology minor, feels excited to finally graduate and get her diploma.

“I just wanted to graduate and get my diploma because that was what I worked so hard for,” said the 22-year-old. “Honestly I would have liked to celebrate in May, but now that we are having our commencement in December, it’s almost like we get to celebrate twice.”

Graduating virtually during a pandemic will be special as it is a first, and is something only the Class of 2020 graduates can share. Although it is different from the norm, this is a first, and that’s what makes the Class of 2o20 so unique.

“Graduating virtually will be a different experience, I’m happy that I get to celebrate with my close family and friends even if it’s through a screen,” Hufano-Kravetz said. “I know that there are going to be many more achievements in my life that I can celebrate in person. It’s a little different, but who else can say they graduated through a pandemic?”

To commemorate all the 2020 graduates and their hard work, please tune into the 2020 Fall Virtual Commencement on Dec. 12.

Schedule of events:

Undergraduate Ceremonies

8:00 am – 10:00 am: School of Nursing and Health Professions

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: School of Humanities, Arts and Design & School of Business and Communication

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: School of Education and Behavioral Sciences