The introductory voiceover of Saturday’s early-afternoon online celebration for Illinois Valley Community College’s 2020 graduates chose to highlight a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the junior college’s 54th commencement to be its first ever virtual one:
“All of you have the best seat in the house, right in front of the stage.”
More than 200 people logged onto YouTube to celebrate live with the IVCC Class of 2020 during a one-hour, nine-minute pretaped video commencement ceremony, with 737 graduates honored in the video produced by recent IVCC graduate Matthew Klein, who also delivered the day’s invocation.
“To simply say that this has been an unusual spring semester would be an understatement,” IVCC president Jerry Corcoran said from the decorated IVCC auditorium stage during his opening address after the playing of Pomp and Circumstance.
“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in 4 million confirmed cases and almost 300,000 deaths worldwide. It also led to our governor issuing an executive directive to shelter in place and close all Illinois community college campuses to the public, leaving us no choice but to move the delivery of instruction to online platforms. Add a cyber attack (on IVCC) to the list of challenges we’ve faced this semester, and one could make a solid case for saying this has been a year like none other.
“But through it all, our faculty, staff and most importantly you, our students, have handled the situation magnificently. This will be an experience you will never forget, nor will we.
“Congratulations to all of you on a job well done.”
After honoring military veterans, a recorded performance by the IVCC Wind Ensemble and the introduction of the board of trustees, IVCC student Nasrina Bellel read her Paul Simon Student Essay Contest-winning entry, also prerecorded at the Oglesby campus.
“Becoming a student at IVCC has changed my life immeasurably in a mere matter of months,” Bellel read. “It has restored my sense of purpose, and with that, my self-worth.
“IVCC has placed me on a path that is lined with attainable goals that will help shape my future and ensure my success.”
Keynote speaker and former IVCC trustee Melissa Olivero, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board, then delivered her address.
“These are definitely unusual times,” Olivero said. “If you had told me several months ago when I agreed to give this speech that I would be making it in an empty theater, I would’ve told you you were crazy. But here we are.
“Still, history has come to our doorstep. These are times we will always remember.”
LaSalle-Peru graduate Devanshi Patel was awarded the prestigious F.W. Matthiessen Award recognizing a student who exhibits high scholarship, a record of civic achievement and/orávolunteer service to the greater community and substantial service to the college community, and was shown in a prerecorded video accepting the honor on the IVCC stage.
The IVCC Class of 2020 was then introduced one by one — accompanied by photos of many dressed in caps and gowns — before student trustee Tony Galindo delivered the benediction and Corcoran a final word to close the virtual ceremony.