Diné College prepares for 2020 winter graduation
TSAILE, Ariz. — Diné College will host a virtual commencement Dec. 11, at 10 a.m. The virtual graduation takes place simultaneously with one to be held in-person.
The graduating classes from spring 2020 and fall 2020 will attend one or the other ceremony. That is, Diné College graduates who were unable to have an in-person during the spring of this year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) were invited to participate in-person Dec. 11.
Diné College Provost Dr. Geraldine Garrity said for fall 2020, 56 students petitioned to graduate and seven of those students were confirmed to participate in-person. Garrity said 49 fall 2020 graduates will be recognized virtually, and 11 students from spring 2020 were confirmed to participate in-person on Dec. 11.
“The fall 2020 and spring 2020 graduates will be combined,” Garrity said. “This is the first fall graduation and was planned before the (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Garrity explained that the college is taking safety precautions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“All participants will be required to wear masks, social distance and be screened before entering the building. Graduates can bring up to three people in a vehicle,” he said.
Garrity said only graduates can enter the building, while family members view the graduation ceremony from their vehicles. She said the ceremony will be streamed live through the Office of the Navajo Nation Media, Webinar, Facebook and the college radio station KXWR. The ceremony will take place at the Student Union Building, where chairs will be placed 12 feet apart.
“We are working hard to ensure that there is minimal traffic in the building and we are organizing the presentation so as to have a mixture of live and video recording event. We want students to feel safe. Students will be exiting the building as soon as they receive their degrees and return to their vehicles for conferral,” Garrity said.
Diné College was founded in 1968 as the country’s first tribally-controlled institution of higher learning.
“There is a webinar link posted on the college website and we encourage everyone to register to participate,” Garrity said. “Facebook and the Navajo Nation Media channel will also be available.”
Garrity noted for spring 2020, the college provided a celebratory website for graduates and postponed the actual graduation ceremony.
“As the (COVID-19) pandemic continues, we couldn’t do a large event so we asked students what they wanted their graduation ceremony to be like,” she said. “Students were surveyed and provided their input. For students that decided to attend in-person, the graduation committee worked on the best solution to celebrate the event in a safe manner.”
Garrity said a big challenge in organizing the December event was safety.
The spring 2020 graduates received a gift box over the summer, Garrity said. The fall 2020 graduates will receive a gift bag on-site, and for those graduates attending virtually they will receive a gift via regular mail in January 2021.
James Tutt, dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at Diné College, will be the event’s emcee. Sage Bond, a college alumnus, will sing the national anthem.
Classes for spring 2021 begin Jan. 11 and registration ends Dec. 18, but picks back up on Jan. 7 and 8.
Information provided by Dine College
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