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A Week of Virtual Graduation Events for STHM’s Class of 2020

By: Alison Rooney
First Published: May 19, 2020
Topics: Alumni, STHM School, Student Stories

Graduation is a unique time for celebration and looking forward as well as back. The week of May 4 looked different for students at the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) than they had anticipated over the past several years—and yet despite the extreme circumstances it was still #TempleMade Week. The coronavirus pandemic forced all graduation events to be held online, but that did not stop the faculty and staff from finding creative ways to celebrate the STHM students.

A Weeklong Celebration

The STHM “Celebration Week” webpage was created to capture an entire series of digital events. Assistant Dean Heather Blackburn kicked off a video tribute from faculty and staff—with a jump into chilly water to demonstrate her recommendation that students “Dive into your future!” Professors shared favorite memories as well as congratulations, advising students to “Be innovative and creative” as well as to “Continue to learn and network.” 

Dr. Jeremy Jordan, Associate Dean, posted a graduation address via YouTube on May 5 honoring the students’ commitment during this challenging time, and shared his support and confidence that they will use what they have learned to succeed in their careers. “It’s been our pleasure to work with you,” he said. “STHM will be here to support you, and I have no doubt that you are destined for great things.”

The graduation page features a congratulatory video from members of the STHM Alumni Association, who welcomed these new members to this distinguished group. In addition to this, the graduates enjoyed a special address from the Student Commencement Speaker, Mary Kate Meals (BSRM ‘20). “Everything we have experienced and learned during this time is going to transfer into our careers when the new world emerges,” she said. 

STHM social media accounts featured special messages all week long. Further memorializing the graduates is Capture the Moment, a digital yearbook with photos and memories from dozens of STHM students as well as messages from Meals, Dr. Jordan and Dr. Elizabeth Barber.

The celebrations went beyond STHM to include broader Temple events as well. On the night of May 6, Temple hosted a University-Wide Senior Night Zoom Celebration with a DJ dance party, a toast and a slideshow of memories. The following day was Temple University’s Official Degree Conferral Day and Experience, which included a message from leadership and a time capsule via video.

Words of Wisdom and a Virtual Toast

Friday, May 8 was the official STHM Celebration Day, and many graduates tuned in for a Facebook Live toast with Dean Jordan, with special tribute messages from faculty members, staff and special guests.

Associate Professor Rick Ridall hosted the 30-minute event. “We could not be more proud,” he said, citing the many alumni, industry partners, deans, faculty, staff and parents who were taking part that day. “It’s not just the STHM Nation, it’s an STHM Universe,” Ridall noted.

Ron Anderson, Dean of STHM and Fox School of Business, shared some remarks as well. “This may be your last day as a Temple student, but it’s not the last day of your education,” he said. “You have pivoted to a virtual world to finish your degree…done what was required, and persevered. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, and we are your proud partner in that effort.”

Joining in on the festivities were Temple mascot Hooter the Owl, the Phillie Phanatic, and Julie Coker, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Philadelphia sportscaster Marc Zumoff advised students to “Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you,” and to “Remember: Passion, persistence and patience.” Award-winning Philadelphia restaurateur Mike Solomonov challenged the students to be “The next Greatest Generation.”

In the concluding toast, Dr. Jordan thanked the faculty and spoke about how proud he is of all that STHM has accomplished. “This would not have happened without you, the students” he said. “You have the skills, fortitude and resilience to be successful. You’re ready to make a change and have your impact. This is the beginning of your next adventure. You are forever an Owl, and you will always have a home here at STHM, as part of our family.” Dr. Jordan then raised a glass in congratulations.

As the Class of 2020 joins more than 343,000 Temple alumni around the world, we wish them much success, and look forward to reporting on their many accomplishments as STHM alumni and sport, tourism and hospitality professionals.