When the COVID-19 pandemic first shutdown Clemson University this past spring, Will Werner was pretty bummed. He and a few of his buddies had planned a trip to tour Europe after graduation. But he knew that was out the door.
But he figured he would at least have graduation. Or so he thought.
Clemson eventually had to close the campus down through August, eliminating both the May and August commencement ceremonies until Saturday.
“You just pinched yourself that this is happening,” the finance major said. “I never thought this was going to still be a thing.”
The hardest thing for Werner was the fact he could not see his friends, lifelong friends he made during his four years at Clemson.
“None of us live in Clemson anymore. Nobodies grandparents want to come visit. So, it was going to be a graduation weekend, where you can see everybody. Now, it is kind of this. We are not even in Clemson. It is kind of tough,” he said.
Instead, Werner, and several hundred of his Clemson classmates, graduated at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday. Clemson University will have held seven graduation ceremonies in Greenville when the weekend is complete on Sunday.
They had two on Friday, three on Saturday and will have two more on Sunday.
“It was definitely different and not as exciting, but now that we are here, it feels just about the same,” said Jack Tchirkow, a financial management major from Greenville. “It was a little disappointing, but now that we are getting to do it, compared to other schools that had virtual graduations, this is great.”
Tchirkow’s friend, Jennifer Chappell, said schools such as NC State were having virtual graduation ceremonies, so she was appreciative that Clemson found a way to give them a in-person graduation, even it if it was not a traditional graduation.
“It is clear Clemson really tried to at least gives us what they could,” the Charlotte native said.
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