St. Ambrose students completed a big milestone this weekend in a more traditional fashion and are ready to take the next step in their lives.
For the first time since 2019, the university’s graduation ceremonies were held in person at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline.
A ceremony for graduates took place Friday evening, and a ceremony for undergraduates was conducted Saturday afternoon.
Pandemic restrictions such as masks and social distancing were enforced, and each student was allowed to invite only two guests.
Organizers say it took a lot of planning to get to this point.
The in-person ceremonies not only benefitted students and their families — they’re also giving the TaxSlayer Center much-needed business.
“It seems that we’re getting more and more all the time. We just added Moline, and with this COVID year, we’re not really doing concerts,” said TaxSlayer Center Executive Director Scott Mullen. “It’s great to have these things because it fills the calendar.”
Students prepare for graduation
Local 4’s Taylor Boser had a chance to speak with St. Ambrose staff and students earlier in the week, who had mixed emotions about the school year coming to a close.
Students said graduating in person was something they were looking forward to all year long and that they were glad it was finally happening.
Each student had their own reason why being able to graduate in person was extra special and meaningful to them.
“I’ll have both of my parents there. They’ll actually be the ones to do our hooding as well and give us our certificate, so that’s going to be kind of special as well to just have them be a part of that process,” said one graduate.
Students said having a virtual ceremony and just seeing their name on a screen doesn’t compare to the excitement of actually getting to walk across the stage and get handed their diploma.
“I know my parents are excited,” he said. “They’re finally done putting their kids through college, so I’m definitely excited.”
Shraddha Sudhir’s mother is in India and wasn’t be able to attend the ceremony in person.
However, she did still cheer on her daughter while watching the livestream at home.
“It’s a huge thing, honestly, being able to graduate,” said Sudhir prior to graduating. “Being able to get through these past four years will definitely mean a lot to her … and yeah … me being away from home, so I think it’s a big thing for both of us, like a big journey that we’ve gone through the last four years and honestly would not have been possible without her.”
These graduation ceremonies are also exciting for the staff — including the provost.
Paul Koch, St. Ambrose Provost and Academic Affairs Vice President, said he heard firsthand from students how much this day means to them, even with the guest restrictions, and he’s glad they were able to have commencement in person.
“This is what we all are here for. To serve our students and see them through the completion … and to be up on that stage, or in the audience and help celebrate their successes, is why we do this,” said Koch. “I think people are just going to be excited to be there.”