CCU later, Class of 2022

This weekend’s graduation events mark a return to normalcy with full, in-person commencement ceremonies held at the university and college levels after several semesters of scaled back celebrations since the pandemic started in 2020. 

Undergraduate and graduate students reflected on their years at Coastal as graduation weekend approaches.   

Master’s in communication student Ian Brooking said after seven years at Coastal, he’s finally ready to say goodbye, but not without sharing some advice first.  

“I heard this advice from someone else, so I’m passing it down. If you need a break, take a break, no matter if it takes you two years, four years, six years. Once you have that degree in your hands, it’s yours, no one can take that away from you,” Brooking said. 

Senior interdisciplinary studies major Madison Padro said she is ready to have a COVID-free graduation although she wishes it was in a different location.    

“I’m excited, I just kind of wish it was all on the field instead of in HTC, just because we don’t have to wear masks anymore doesn’t mean it should be inside. It’s nicer to have it outside,” Padro said. 

According to Coastal’s commencement website, face masks are only required for people who have just been released from quarantine or isolation. Other than that, the choice to wear a mask is up to individuals. CCU has also said anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend the events.  

In addition to Saturday’s University Commencement, four ceremonies for Coastal’s five colleges are Friday and Saturday in the HTC Center. Students who are earning a degree in Sustainability and Coastal Resilience or Women’s and Gender Studies will be recognized at the Edwards College ceremony.   

The college ceremonies are as follows: 

  • Wall College of Business Administration: Friday, 2 p.m. 
  • Gupta College of Science: Friday, 6 p.m.  
  • Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences: Saturday, 12 p.m.  
  • Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts and HTC Honors College: Saturday 4 p.m 

Graduation celebrations started early with events beginning April 22 and continuing throughout the week leading up to the commencement ceremonies. The International Sash Ceremony, Donning of the Kente Ceremony, and Lavender Graduation Ceremony are just a few of the early events that honored graduates.  

The University Commencement Ceremony takes place Saturday  at 9 a.m. in Brooks Stadium. This ceremony is not a ticketed event. During the university commencement, each dean will step forward and request President Michael Benson confer degrees on their college’s candidates. The graduates and their families will also listen to speeches from Benson, the board of trustees, and guest commencement speaker, Vanessa E. Wyche.  

Wyche is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and a native of Conway. She graduated from Clemson University in 1985 with Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Master of Science in Bioengineering.  

Wyche started working at NASA in 1989 and worked her way up to her current role through many different positions. She has served NASA as director of the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate, flight manager of several missions of the retired Space Shuttle Program, and executive officer in the Office of the NASA Administrator.