Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Sunday, May 3, 2020, was a day that will be remembered in Valencia College’s history — our first-ever virtual Commencement ceremony for our more than 4,000 graduates. Although an in-person celebration had been planned for months, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to quickly move the celebration for our 51st Annual Commencement Ceremony online.
“COVID-19 has not in any way diminished our desire and efforts to celebrate you and all of your educational accomplishments,” shared College President Sandy Shugart during his Commencement address. “As a College and as a community, we’ve endured a great deal together. I keenly remember how we came together to get through the aftermath of the Pulse terrorist attack. We have a strong history of working together and getting through tough times together, and during this time we’ll do the same.”
Although student sentiment was mixed on the virtual celebration, students gathered in their homes to listen to Dr. Shugart’s address, a message from Alumni Advisory Board Chair Jeffery Villegas, the conferring of degrees by Sandy Shugart and District Board of Trustees Chair Tracey Stockwell, and an inspiring message from our 2019-2020 Distinguished Graduate Tamyia Paul.
“When I found out that I was chosen for this honor, this is not how I pictured it happening,” Tamyia admitted in her address. “It’s safe to say that a lot of us were disappointed that we didn’t get the traditional commencement experience. But, hey, at least our family members don’t have to fight about who gets a ticket now. Things are different this year, but I am so excited to be a part of Valencia history.”
Families, friends, Valencia employees and the community were encouraged to share their congratulatory messages and celebrations via social media. Community leaders joined in as well with their own video messages.
Click on the following community leaders’ names to view their video on social media: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, State Rep. Anna Eskamani, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, and Osceola County Commissioners Brandon Arrington, Peggy Choudry, Viviana Janer, Cheryl Griebe and Fred Hawkins, Jr.
Additionally, the city of Orlando painted the town red on Sunday to celebrate our class of 2019-2020. The Lake Eola fountain was red and gold for the evening to celebrate, and many landmarks around the city were red including the artwork around Lake Eola, the Tower of Light in front of City Hall, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the spire over the Amway Center and the pedestrian bridge over Colonial Drive.