College conducts fall commencement as a drive-through

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Marissa Saenz-Peña, associate director of student success, measures a graduation gown on administrative assistance sophomore Kelly Alaniz at the cap and gown pick-up April 1, 2019. A Graduation in Motion ceremony will drive through campus 6 p.m. Nov. 21 to celebrate this semester, spring and summer 2020 graduates. File

By Dylan Villalon

A Graduation in Motion ceremony will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 21 with check-in starting at 4 p.m. in parking Lot 16 east of Moody Learning Center.

Students completing their degree or certificate requirements this fall are being honored along with graduates from summer and last spring.

Traditionally, the college conducts one commencement ceremony in May each year.

Because the Covid-19 pandemic caused classes to go online, the college is offering a fall commencement ceremony in addition to May commencement.

Paramedic sophomore Chantica Valverde poses while her friends, American history sophomore James Garrett, fire science sophomore Juzzine Valverde and liberal arts sophomore Mark Garcia place props as decorations for her photo March 6, 2019. The Graduation in Motion ceremony allows families to ride in the car with the graduate and participate in activities along the route. File

Graduates and their families will drive across campus and have their degrees and certifications individually recognized over a loudspeaker.

“Graduation in Motion is simply a drive-through where we’re going to allow graduates from spring and the summer to drive through the middle of campus, and we are going to have a lot of different activities,” college President Robert Vela said.

The drive-through cuts through a path that is typically reserved for emergency or maintenance vehicles, from West Dewey Place adjacent to Fletcher Administration Center to the south edge of campus on Evergreen Street.

More than 400 students have registered at

Vela was excited to announce this opportunity for students and their families.

“The beautiful thing is that, you know, when a student walks the stage traditionally, they are walking the stage alone. Here with the drive-through, they can have their families, friends and loved ones with them and experience this graduation in motion. Now the stage is the whole runway right in the middle of campus.”

The safety and wellbeing of students and faculty remains a priority for the college.

Graduates are encouraged to not overpack vehicles, to obey state laws and not put their own and others’ safety at risk.

Back-up vehicles are on standby for students experiencing transportation issues.

The ceremony will be streamed live on KSYM 90.1 FM and the college’s YouTube channel and Facebook page in addition to interviews with participating graduates and their families documenting the experience.

“If family can’t all come, they can watch it and stream it or they can listen to it on KSYM,” Vela said.

He talked about why it is important to stream the ceremony to the public.

“It gives everyone the ability to experience that if they can’t physically be there,” Vela said.

Many schools in the city have had to postpone or convert their commencement ceremonies to virtual events.

The University of the Incarnate Word and Trinity University have announced they will be hosting virtual commencement ceremonies in December for their students.

In May, graduates of the University of Texas at San Antonio paraded through that campus in addition to participating in a virtual ceremony.

The majority of the Alamo Colleges also has opted for the virtual approach to graduation.

Northwest Vista College is hosting a drive-in ceremony at the Drive in at Fiesta Texas, where students will be honored on the big screen.

If Graduation in Motion is a success, the college plans to host a similar event in spring 2021.

“It’s gonna be special,” Vela promised.

For more information on graduation, visit:


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