On May 15, the NRG Stadium was once again filled with San Jacinto College graduates who celebrated the college's first in-person graduation ceremonies since the pandemic. Separated 6 feet apart under Covid safety protocols, the students' happy faces could still be seen smiling behind their masks.
There were a total of 1,671 graduates from classes of 2020 and spring 2021 attending, accompanied by 18,000 guests.
According to the Dean of Student Development Tami Kelly, there were more graduates who expressed their desire to attend the event. However, they ended up not attending as the venue required a list of RSVPs in advance with no late applications accepted to allow proper social distancing
“I think it was just the idea that they had not had an opportunity to do this kind of thing [in a while] that made everyone want to come out and celebrate,” said Kelly.
Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer recognized the attending 2020 graduates in her speech: “Because of the pandemic, their commencement ceremonies were held virtually, and we made a promise to invite you to today’s ceremony. We’re so glad many of you chose to be here to celebrate with us.”
“I feel for those people who had to go through their graduation and not be able to walk. I was getting worried myself that we weren’t going to be able to do it this year. I wanted to do it this time because now I feel different. I’ve never been a part of a college like San Jac,” said Joshua Roussell, one of the 2020 graduates.