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Iowa Central Community College Hosts First Virtual Commencement Ceremony

    by Iowa Central Information
    Posted on 5/27/2020


Fort Dodge, IA - For Iowa Central Community College’s 53rd Commencement, instead of walking across the stage at Decker Auditorium, students donned their caps and gowns online for the college’s first Virtual Graduation Commencement Ceremony due to the ongoing pandemic. On May 22nd, the event was broadcasted on Iowa Central’s YouTube (IowaCentralCC) and Facebook (@IowaCentral) pages.  

What was initially scheduled to be a traditional commencement on May 7th, was transformed to be presented on-screen and in the living rooms of hundreds of graduates and well-wishers. The decision to go virtual for the graduation ceremony was not one that was taken lightly. The health and safety of the college students, faculty, staff, speakers, and guests were top priority. Iowa Central Community College worked diligently to put together an experience that would encompass ceremonial traditions and highlight the graduates’ accomplishments in a digital format.

Graduating students that chose to participate in the event were mailed their Iowa Central diploma covers, cap, gown, and cords ahead of time, along with special instructions on how to be a part of the Virtual Commencement Ceremony. The instructions encouraged graduates to take pictures donning their cap and gown and send them to Iowa Central to be displayed during the event broadcast.

“While it is disheartening not to have a normal commencement, our team has worked tirelessly to create the same level of pomp and circumstance surrounding this year’s graduation,” said Dr. Dan Kinney, President of Iowa Central Community College. “Triton Nation remains strong, and this event is a testament to that.”

The broadcast began remotely from the Bioscience & Health Science Building. Traditional commencement greetings from Iowa Central’s President Dr. Kinney and Board of Trustees President Mark Crimmins set the procession in motion. “I have shared with our team, and now you today, that in life, being prepared to solve challenges strengthens our ability to succeed. You have overcome challenges to achieve your degree today. We commend you on your resiliency and ability to achieve despite the impact of this difficult situation,” opened Dr. Kinney.

Crimmins added, “We are proud of your achievements and bestow upon you our very best wishes for continued future successes. To the families who are celebrating with us this evening, we join in, along with your loved ones, to thank you for your relentless support and high expectations.”

Another custom during Iowa Central’s commencements is to take a moment to present the annual Golden Triton Award to one faculty and one staff member in recognition of their service to the college. This year’s award winners were Tim Ehler (faculty) and Jenny Shivers (staff).

After the award presentation, commencement speakers took to the stage. This year, speakers included Student Senate Vice-President, Macy Wunschel; All-Iowa Academic Team & All-USA Academic Team Nominee, Brooklin Border; and Commencement Speaker, The Honorable William Thatcher. Wunschel and Border addressed their fellow graduates. 

“Many of us may feel that we do not have the closure because of this door closing sooner than we thought. We missed the chance to have our last walk through the courtyard, our last night staying in the dorms, our last time eating at the Triton Café, and many more, but we cannot long on the feeling of closure,” said Wunschel. “Our future starts now. A new door is opening for each of us. Some may be entering the workforce, transferring to a university, or entering into a program; this door is going to enter you into a new realm filled with new experiences. So, I encourage you to take this leap into your future with trust that Iowa Central has taught you to be the best that you can possibly be.”

Border added, “We should all be walking across the stage right now to receive our diplomas, but we can’t. One thing I have learned here is that the whole world is, indeed, a stage. We have this stage where we can use our own voices, to speak out, to learn new things, travel, make new friends, and do whatever makes us happy. We have one chance at life, so why not make the most of it?”

Iowa Central’s 53rd Commencement Speaker was The Honorable William Thatcher, Magistrate Judge with the Second District of Iowa. For forty-seven years, Judge Thatcher has been practicing law in Fort Dodge. With his years of professional experience, Thatcher offered some encouraging words of wisdom. 

“I’ve been judging people for over four decades. I’ve seen winners, and I’ve seen losers. As a result, I have three recommendations for you. Make good memories. Make good decisions. Have a winning attitude,” said The Honorable William Thatcher. “Excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude. No matter what you do in life, whether it is being a diesel mechanic, an artist, an engineer, a nurse or a farmer, you must carry a positive, winning attitude. Your attitude will define you.”

Closing out the ceremony, the evening concluded with a special video tribute to the graduates from the entire Iowa Central family. The images represented the student body participating in various events throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.

Under the direction of Vocal Music Director, Will Lopes, the Iowa Central Vocal Jazz Ensemble joined from their homes across the country to sing The Star-Spangled Banner.

Pomp and Circumstance, composed by Sir Edward Elgar and The Iowa Band Law March, composed by Karl L. King, were put together under the direction of Paul Bloomquist, Director of Instrumental Music. These musical pieces by the Iowa Central Concert Band were remotely recorded individually and then mixed together into the final versions by Mr. Bloomquist.

Those interested in viewing the event can watch it on the college’s YouTube page at youtube.com/IowaCentralCC.

Iowa Central Community College Hosts First Virtual Commencement Ceremony