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Forever Flyers graduate virtually

Forever Flyers graduate virtually

Michelle Tedford June 26, 2020

A record number of students became forever Flyers the weekend of May 9 and 10. And while it wasn’t the ceremony they had anticipated, it was one to remember.

Because of the pandemic, commencement — as well as all other campus events — could not be held as planned. The degree conferral ceremony instead moved online. The Pride of Dayton Marching Band started the festivities with the national anthem, each musician recorded from a bedroom, basement or living room scattered around the country.

“Every University of Dayton graduating class has its story to tell,” President Eric. F. Spina told the 1,490 graduating seniors. “Your story is powerful, poignant, courageous. And how you continue to rise above the times will determine not just your character but your destiny.”

In the law school ceremony, he urged graduates to remember that they are resilient, flexible and problem-solvers extraordinaire — all traits that will serve them well in their professions and in life.

The ceremony for graduate students was attended virtually by Varshith Madasu and his seven roommates gathered around a computer hooked to a television in their apartment on Firwood Drive near campus. Joining him online were his parents and sister in his hometown of Hyderabad, India, where it was almost midnight.

“They were happy that I was part of the Flyer community and that we had someone taking care of us,” he said.

Madasu, who received a master’s in computer science, was among graduating students convened a month prior to share their thoughts on what a virtual ceremony should include. Students asked for it not to replace commencement — the University is planning to reschedule its on-campus ceremony — but to capture the community spirit that imbued their education.


Each ceremony featured photos submitted by graduates of their time at UD and well-wishes from their faculty. “When your children ask you what you did during the great pandemic, tell them you persevered and that you graduated from the University of Dayton,” said history professor Janet Bednarek in a pre-recorded video.

“My daughter’s spirits were lifted during the family viewing of the ceremony,” wrote in Ellen Davis, mother of graphic design major Erica Davis. “The mood of the entire day was one of celebration and jubilation.”

Nearly 2,100 students received degrees in the three May ceremonies. Combined with degrees already granted in August and December, nearly 3,000 Flyers have earned degrees this academic year. Both marks eclipse records set last year. Graduates received their diplomas by mail, but the date they became alumni will always be special.

“This memory is going to be with us for all time,” Madasu said. “We are proud to be Flyers.”