For a second year in a row, Langley’s university students have had their graduation season interrupted by COVID-19.
This time around, however, the graduates had a plan.
TWU’s student association (TWUSA) created an outdoor drive-thru graduation banquet to honour the class of 2021.
While the virtual graduation ceremony is forthcoming on May 1, TWUSA’s socially spaced drive-thru graduation banquet was held April 10, on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the university’s Langley campus.
Cindy Easterina, from Indonesia, was among the class of 2021 who registered to attend the outdoor celebration, which was open to graduates and those who wanted to celebrate with them.
“It means a lot to me, because my family’s not here,” said Easterina, who has achieved a degree in psychology with a certificate in human services.
Easterina’s family had been saving funds to travel to Canada for Cindy’s graduation but could not come due to pandemic travel restrictions. In their place, Easterina asked TWU staff member Trina Pinzon, assistant director of global projects, to accompany her to the outdoor graduation as her stand-in family.
Angel Smith, from Vancouver Island, is graduating from the same program as Easterina.
“COVID has taken away the fun aspect of being able to celebrate,” she said, but “TWUSA has done a really good job and Trinity as a whole has done a really good job at making us feel appreciated.”
“It’s a way for us to celebrate our accomplishment one way or another,” Smith said of the transformed banquet. “It’s nice. I really appreciate it.”
Réal Boudreau from Nova Scotia is the TWUSA representative for the faculty of natural and applied sciences, and one of the event’s organizers.
“Because we can’t have a normal banquet, we’re having a drive-through,” Boudreau said.
“We encourage all the grads to come through and have a great time,” said the fourth-year biology and business major, who was helping to distribute pre-packaged food and party favours to graduates.
Daniela Lombardo, from Mexico, is a fourth-year international studies major and this year’s TWUSA president. She said that the purpose of the event is simple: to celebrate graduating students.
“It’s important to help students feel closure within their degree,” she said.
Saturday’s drive-thru graduation banquet stretched along TWU’s Langley campus walkway and consisted of 10 pit stops.
Every academic department hosted their own outdoor station, greeting graduates and their families, and giving gifts. Gifts included potted plants, mugs, edible goodies and TWU-namesake souvenirs.
Graduates and guests visited each station on foot or drove by slowly in their cars, while being cheered by faculty and classmates along the way.
The finale of the outdoor banquet included a livestream program on TWUSA’s YouTube channel, featuring speeches and a video montage created by the TWU Pillar yearbook team.
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