USC holds in-person graduation ceremonies for classes of 2020, 2021

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The field of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was filled with chairs Friday morning as graduates from USC’s classes of 2020 and 2021 prepared to celebrate in-person ceremonies for the first time since the pandemic began.

Fourteen ceremonies are scheduled to take place over the next seven days. Two will be held at the Coliseum each day from May 14-20, with the first starting at 8 a.m. and the second taking place at 3:30 p.m., according to USC’s news website.

“We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to make it happen,” said USC Vice President of Communications Kyle Henley.

Henley said it is the fulfillment of a promise made last year by USC President Carol Folt to hold in-person ceremonies in 2021 after the pandemic forced them to go virtual in 2020.

Graduates are being allowed a maximum of two guests due to COVID-19 restrictions. Face coverings and social distancing are required.

Video from inside the Coliseum Friday morning showed chairs, spaced 6-feet apart on the grass, from one end of the stadium to the other.

Henley said the graduation ceremony was returning to the Coliseum for the first time in 70 years because of its size and the ability it provided to maintain social distancing.

“We’re really proud that we can make this happen for these students. They’ve worked so hard,” Henley said.

Everyone must be preregistered for a ceremony or they will not be allowed inside the Coliseum.

Graduate Justin Kawaguchi spoke about how happy he was to get to finally graduate in person.

“After a year of Zoom University … coming together in person for family and friends is just so special and really heartwarming,” Kawaguchi said.

All of the ceremonies will be streamed online.

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