Digital, interactive, global: Jacobs University celebrates its first online graduation
As the first class in the history of Jacobs University, the „Class of 2020“ celebrated its graduation virtually. In the lively, diverse and moving ceremony, graduates and their families from around the world came together live – via video, chat or posts on Instagram. Even the traditional hat toss was included. „You are digital pioneers,“ praised Prof. Antonio Loprieno, President of Jacobs University, the graduating class.
The corona pandemic had made a joint celebration on site, which usually takes place with over 1,500 participants, impossible. The graduation is the highlight and the conclusion of the academic year at the private university in northern Bremen. From the studio on the Jacobs University campus, presenter Natalie Strauss brought 344 graduating students from 74 nations, their families and friends, together online. Some of them joined via live call from their living rooms all over the world. But many of the graduates were actually present: as avatars, graphic figures, that they had designed themselves.
In the studio, a panel consisting of Jacobs President Prof. Dr. Antonio Loprieno, the lecturer Dr. Mandi Larsen and two representatives of the Class of 2020, Edgardo Reyes Martinez and Ishita Rakholia, attended the ceremony. „The pandemic is bad for celebrating together, but good for personal development“, President Loprieno emphasized the positive side of the pandemic. „We have experienced and overcome difficult times together. This is a valuable experience for your future leadership roles in society, business or academia.“
Poetry slammer Nik Salsflausen took the graduates on an impressive and emotional journey through their time of studies and across the campus, before they received their diplomas digitally. Each and every one of the graduates’ names was read out, honoring their accomplishments in front of the entire Jacobs Community. This included the announcement of their degree and a photo or avatar as well as a personal message.
The outstanding trait of Jacobs University is its diversity, it brings together people of different nationalities, religions and beliefs and promotes solidarity and tolerance, emphasized the class speaker, Baker Samir Baker Diab, in his speech. „We have learned to build bridges, not walls.“ This was also the view of Stefan Rustler. The President of the Alumni Association spoke live from Bangkok. „We share common values. Studying at Jacobs University unites us,“ he said. Jacobs University alumni are always there for each other, even if their studies ended some time ago. „You are not alone, no matter where you are.“ In his short speech, President Loprieno also referred to the growing awareness worldwide „of the need to leave behind all forms of racism and discrimination and to promote mutual respect and understanding.”
Expressing their joy about their graduation, some graduates tossed their hats by video and the community said cheers – on the panel and in front of the screens. With „Jacobs Blue“ or „Jacobs Blue Sour“, drinks created especially for the ceremony.
The two-hour event was atmospherically started and concluded by the marching band „Billy Burrito“, whose musical walk across the campus grounds symbolized the traditional procession of the entire faculty and the graduates.