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Virtual Celebration Honors Spring 2020 Graduates

View Drive-Up Event Photos on Flickr

May 14, 2020 - Eastern Florida State College celebrated Spring 2020 graduation in a major way Thursday with a special Virtual Commencement Ceremony, plus students flocking to the Melbourne Campus for drive-up photo opportunities and filling social media platforms with #EFSCGrad photos and videos.

EFSC Spring 2020 graduate Madeline Peloquin
Graduate Madeline Peloquin at the Melbourne Campus

“This is an incredible day like no other in the college’s history,” said college President Dr. Jim Richey. “Graduates refused to let the COVID-19 pandemic dampen their sprints. It was an amazing and joyful display of pride in their accomplishments.”

Hundreds of cars streamed onto the campus throughout the day as students took quick pictures in front of colorful banners marking the occasion, picked up diploma covers and shouted loud cheers.

Many dressed up for the occasion and even sported caps and gowns they had hoped to wear for a ceremony inside the King Center for the Performing Arts before COVID-19 moved Spring term classes online and canceled on-campus events.

"This is history and I wanted to be a part of it," said Hayilee Cole, who is earning an Associate in Arts degree as a dual enrolled student while also graduating from Melbourne High School with plans to attend FSU in the fall.

"We are the first to graduate like this so that is something to be proud of. It is very different, but I am just very appreciative of the college for making this available to us."

Sarah Caruso of Melbourne intends to pursue a master's degree after earning a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management at EFSC. "I am the first in the family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree so I have been looking forward to this day. It’s definitely unique, very untraditional."

“It’s great the college could overcome the obstacles of not having an in-person graduation ceremony because of the virus. I love the college. It’s a great place,” said Eddie Young, who is earning an Associate in Arts Degree.

Meanwhile, his father who is working for a military contractor in Afghanistan, could watch the online Virtual Commencement Ceremony, which features remarks from Richey and others, plus a scrolling list of students' names.

“I cannot begin to say how proud I am of our graduates,” said Richey.

“Getting this far requires commitment, sacrifice and a strong belief in yourselves and in your future. Getting this far amid trying times makes your accomplishments even more extraordinary and a testament to your strength of character.

You have shown determination in the face of uncertainty, resilience in the face of adversity, and courage in the face of fear.

“Your triumph is something you can draw on for the rest of your lives, knowing you will persevere no matter how difficult the situation.”

Social wall of graduation posts
Many graduates celebrated by watching the virtual commencement on television or online, sharing images tagged #EFSCGrad on the college's social media wall.

Richey also noted that some graduates will go straight from graduation onto the front lines in the fight against the virus, including healthcare providers, first responders and those in other important fields.

“To you we express our deepest gratitude for bravely stepping forward to protect the rest of us,” he said.

The ceremony will be replayed on Sunday, May 17 at noon on WEFS-TV. It is archived on the college's YouTube Channel plus at, which also features social media graphics to help graduates and their families celebrate online.

Posts using #EFSCGrad are being featured on a special social media wall through the end of May. EFSC plans to also recognize spring graduates during a rescheduled ceremony at the King Center in December, with details still to be decided.

"I am so looking forward to walking in December because I am 55 years old and this took a lot to come back and get my degree — took me four years, but it was worth it," said Kelly Sheesley, who was second in line to pick up a diploma cover.

Jason Marsee, a bachelor's degree graduate from Satellite Beach, said, "Times are so different right now with the coronavirus. It is great that EFSC has been able to adapt for our class and do something like this. It is good to be able to celebrate today."