Class of 2020 graduates with ‘robot ceremony’

A college graduation is nothing without the pomp and circumstance of donning a cap and gown to receive your diploma amid friends and family. Of course this year many grads won’t get that moment… But Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management has found a way around that — sort of. Dr. Sanjeev Khagram is the Dean of the Thunderbird school: “For us at Thunderbird, our mission is to train global leaders and managers to maximize the benefits of what we call the fourth industrial revolution…And so we thought, what better way in some sense to live up to our mission and also to celebrate our graduates than to do a robot ceremony.” Cameras pre-recorded about 140 graduates as they logged on at home this week, dressed in graduation robes and mortar board caps. The students took turns moving a remote-controlled robot from their home computers on a podium that displayed their face. Via the robot, they then approached the dean to receive their diplomas and take a photo. 22 year-old Nancy Sierras, the first in her family to graduate from college, describes what it feels like to have a virtual graduation: “I think our generation of millennials, we have been able to adapt very quickly because we are used to being on a computer and on the phone almost, like, 24/7. But in regards to having a graduation online, it’s obviously a big difference. It’s never been done before…I think that we’ve been able to adapt taking classes online and working from home, but obviously, graduating virtually it’s not ideal, but it’s actually, also very cool and iconic to be like the first class ever to do this.” The two-day filming of student podium shots will be combined to create a three-hour webcast posted to YouTube on Monday as a full graduation ceremony. Juili Kale, who’s graduating with a Masters in Global Management, plans to throw a watch party with her husband at home and her family in India. “I’m just probably going to wear my cap and gown and sit in front of the screen with my husband here, you know, and enjoy a drink or two. Make sure that my family has the link…” For those who prefer the real world — when the lockdown is over, the class of 2020 can do a real-life walk at any future graduation ceremony they choose.

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