NGU News

NGU Celebrates 2020 Graduating Class Amid COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Tigerville, SC (May 7, 2020) The restrictions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic canceled North Greenville University’s (NGU) in-person commencement ceremony Friday, May 1. The news came as a disappointment to most, including the university. The Class of 2020 never envisioned their college graduation or graduate work to end this way. The Office of Student Services had an idea to offer students still a means for collecting commencement memorabilia and documents. How about a Regalia & Diploma Drive-Thru Pick-Up Event?

“Our Academic Records staff helped us think through how best to manage the day in light of social distancing guidelines. We have a similar setup for our check-in events at the start of each semester. This seemed like the perfect traffic flow pattern for an event like this as well,” said Vice President for Student Services Rachael Russiaky.

“All graduating students were invited to pick up their regalia and diplomas. We had three drive-through stations: a check-in point, regalia and diploma pick-up, and a station to receive their alumni gift from the Office of Alumni Engagement,” said Russiaky.

Director of Alumni Engagement Lamont Sullivan (’99, M.A. ’13) and his staff presented each graduate with a gift from the Alumni Association.

“The pomp and circumstance are a bit different this year, but their memories at NGU will last a lifetime. The milestone still stands. They have completed the task and are now ready for the next step, whether that is work, graduate school, public service, or another path. We are proud of them,” Sullivan said.

Several staff members from the Office of Student Engagement were on hand “to help create a celebratory environment with music, “Fat Head” photo ops, and cheering on our graduates as they made their way through the drive-through route,” she said.

NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., also joined the celebration to hand out regalia and diplomas and to offer words of encouragement and congratulations. 

“What a joy it was to wish these graduates well in person as they transition into serving as transformational leaders for church and society. This year has been such a challenge to all of our students, but our graduates have had particularly daunting obstacles, and it was so much fun to celebrate their accomplishments today,” said President Fant. “We hope to find additional ways to celebrate their classmates in the days and months to come.”

Of the 276 spring conferrals, over 150 participated in the Pick-Up Event.

“This event was such a blessing to the NGU community. The weather couldn’t have been nicer, and everyone was in such high spirits,” said NGU Provost and Dean of the University Faculty Dr. Nathan A. Finn. “While I’m grieved we were unable to hold spring commencement; it was such a joy to have this unique opportunity to celebrate with our graduates.”

To commemorate this achievement while adhering to current social distancing guidelines, we ask alumni, faculty, family members, classmates, and the graduates themselves to submit celebratory photos to the Graduation Photo Opportunity webpage. The full gallery of senior-submitted graduation shots will be shared on the North Greenville University Facebook page.

Emily Tate from Travelers Rest and a member of the Class of 2020, thinks the pick-up event was an excellent way for the graduates to celebrate with family friends. 

“I am so thankful that NGU provided us with this opportunity,” said Tate.

Tate earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and plans to accept a teaching position for the 2020-21 school year.

James Sherman, a member of the Class of 2020 from Pawley’s Island, received his Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

“Having faculty there during the pick-up was a surprise and uplifting during this depressing situation the world is faced with,” said Sherman.

Sherman plans to attend graduate school at NGU while pursuing a dream as a professional athlete in the 2021 Olympics. He hopes to one day make a career in high-level management in the Greenville area.  

University officials announced in March that the university’s in-person Commencement ceremony would be canceled amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will take place at a future date when students and families can safely attend. The Class of 2020 is encouraged to participate in a special commencement ceremony during Homecoming 2020 planned for October 17-18 or be a part of the Fall 2020 or Spring 2021 commencement services.

For information about NGU’s nationally recognized academic programs, visit

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