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A-State Completes Graduation Weekend with Two Ceremonies


JONESBORO – The 2020 Spring and Summer graduating classes at Arkansas State University will long remember the day they were awarded their diplomas. In the world of the coronavirus pandemic, A-State held two commencement ceremonies Friday evening and Saturday morning on the playing surface of Centennial Bank Stadium.

Students who earned their degrees during the summer sessions went through an evening ceremony Friday, while the graduates of May 2020 received their diplomas Saturday morning.

“Commencement is always a time for excitement here at Arkansas State University as we celebrate along with you a milestone achievement,” Chancellor Kelly Damphouse told the graduates. “Like me, many of you are the first generation of students — the first in your family to get a degree. Others among you represent second or third or fourth generations of Indians/Red Wolves.

“All of you had to work hard to be here today after overcoming challenges while balancing your studies and other responsibilities.”

Attendance in the stadium was allowed by ticket only. Each graduate had his/her own ticket plus four for guests. Graduates were seated six feet apart on the field while guests sat in the stands. All who participated wore face coverings while entering and exiting the stadium.

Damphousse also told the graduates and their families and guests that when he met with his staff in April, he was committed to holding an in-person graduation.

“Many schools were planning virtual ceremonies or cancelling ceremonies altogether,” he noted, “But, our faculty and staff know how important this is to you and your family.” He continued by explaining that the two ceremonies will be held on the football field and streamlined for the first part of the event so the remainder can focus on the students.

While the program was abbreviated due to the anticipated summer heat, student speakers were featured at both ceremonies.

Shanna Porterfield of Benton spoke at the Summer Commencement on Friday, Aug. 7.  Porterfield graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Chris Tina Okolo of Batesville, recipient of the R. E. Lee Wilson Award, the highest recognition for a graduating student at A-State, spoke at the Spring Commencement on Saturday, Aug. 8.  Okolo earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the College of Sciences and Mathematics.  She also was one of six recipients of the Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Alan Utter, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Executive Vice Chancellor, also addressed the audience.