GVSU holding graduation ceremonies this weekend

Ottawa County

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Soon-to-be graduates are roaming Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus wearing their caps and gowns. 

“One of your dreams comes true,” said JaKyle Harris, a criminal justice major. 

Many were taking photos on Friday afternoon to celebrate graduation. While some have no idea what they’ll do after graduation, others, like Sara Polanco, a finance major, will start work on Monday.

“Last summer I was offered an opportunity after a wonderful internship with my now boss,” said Polanco. “A lot of stress taken off me.”

Their sendoff will be a special one. GVSU is hosting an in-person graduation ceremony on Saturday at the Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale. It’ll be the first in-person graduation celebration at GVSU since December 2019. 

“A lot of students want that experience to cross the stage,” said Harris. “It’s going to be a milestone for us graduating college.”

LeaAnn Tibbe, the associate director of the Office of Student Life at the university, has been coordinating graduation ceremonies at GVSU for more than 20 years. 

“Our students have been excited,” said Tibbe. “Over 3,000 eligible to graduate and I have almost 2,200 registered to walk.”

The school is expecting around 10,000 people to show up.

“We have 5-minute increments throughout the day and 25-30 students registered for each of those 5 minutes,” said Tibbe. “Each student can bring 4 guests.”

Social distancing and mask usage will be required, but graduating students can briefly take masks off.

“Grads can take masks off and proceed across stage, and all photos will be without facial covering,” said Tibbe.

Polanco is relishing the idea of finishing her time at GVSU on a high note. She’ll be graduating with her sister, Angela. 

“My hat says there’s a big great beautiful tomorrow,” said Polanco. “If you’ve been to Disney World, this is the song that play on the carousel in the Magic Kingdom.”

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

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