Watching Janelle Woodale walk across the platform at Scheumann Stadium to receive her telecommunications degree was a moment of pride for her father, John Woodale.
“I think it was fitting that there was social distancing because that kind of defined this last part of their school career,” John Woodale said.
Janelle Woodale is a third-generation Ball State graduate and said she was glad the class of 2021 had an in-person graduation ceremony.
“I’d say it was a good start to this next portion of our lives,” she said.
Ball State had never hosted a commencement ceremony at Scheumann Stadium before May 7, but administrators chose the venue because of its ability to host people while still following COVID-19 health guidelines.
All scheduled spring 2021 commencement ceremonies are livestreamed and saved on Ball State’s commencement website.
Four ceremonies were held May 8 at Scheumann Stadium for spring 2021 graduates, separated by college. Two commencement ceremonies will be held May 15 to honor 2020 graduates who chose to walk after their commencement ceremonies were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seats on Scheumann’s turf were socially distanced and sanitized between ceremonies. Graduates were limited to four guest tickets each. Guests were also socially distanced on the bleachers.
Graduates heard speeches from Geoffrey Mearns, Ball State president, and Susana Rivera-Mills, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
“This is a most happy day, and we are glad to have all of you here in person,” Rivera-Mills said.
Mearns thanked students for their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and encouraged them each to find meaning in their lives and careers.
“I know each one of you have made countless sacrifices to successfully overcome the challenges of this pandemic,” Mearns said. “On behalf of everyone here and everyone at the institution, we are proud of your persistence, your courage and your hard work.”
McKade Schuldt, marketing and business administration graduate, said he liked that the noon ceremony only hosted graduates of the Miller College of Business.
“It’s quicker and shorter, and there’s better parking, so I personally liked it more,” Schuldt said. “Instead of being like eight hours long with all the colleges, it was only an hour long with the Miller College of Business.”
For Bailey Morgan, organizational communications graduate, the commencement ceremony represented a slow return to normalcy after last year’s ceremonies were canceled.
“I was kind of nervous, but really excited the ceremony was in person,” Morgan said. “It’s a very special moment and I’m glad we get this opportunity. This year seemed like craziness sometimes, but commencement seems to set the stone of returning to normal again.”
Contact Grace McCormick with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @graceMc564.