Hokie graduates celebrate accomplishment in first in-person Commencement since COVID-19

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech officials have officially made it through the first of 16 in-person graduations happening over the next week.

More than 350 graduates were at Lane Stadium on Virginia Tech’s campus on Monday, May 10. Graduates and guests were offered masks as they entered the stadium.

According to Mark Owczarski, the Assistant Vice President for University Relations at Virginia Tech, “We’ve added extra hand sanitizers to Lane Stadium to make sure that people are clean and in between each ceremony, all 16 of them, we’re going to clean and scrub, and disinfect Lane Stadium.”

Preparations have been in the works since last week. More than 20 workers checked final preparations Monday morning, but their work is far from done.

Traffic, this year, is not expected to be as much of an issue.

“We’re not going to quite see the traffic and congestion, but that’s intentional because we don’t want large gatherings in our parking lot,” Owczarski said.

Typically there are around 6,200 graduates, with 30,000 to 40,000 guests. Many guests this year say they appreciate the smaller ceremonies.

“In Michigan, we were hit really really hard with the pandemic, but if you have your shots and you’re prayed up with your faith, hopefully, you’ll be okay,” said Peter Banks, who traveled from Michigan to see his sister graduate.

Graduates walking Monday said they are just happy to have ceremonies in-person.

According to Asha Cheruvu, who just graduated with her Masters in Computer Science, “They see me work really hard and things, so this is just as much their victory as it is mine.”

Claire Ko graduated with her Masters in Education Monday.

“I came here for my Bachelor’s as well and we didn’t get that graduation in 2020, so it’s really nice to be able to do it this year,” explained Ko.

Airport officials with the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport also informed WFXR News that they have seen an uptick in air travel this month and are running at about 70% of what they were this time in 2019.

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