AdventHealth University took another step on its journey to returning to normal by hosting in-person graduation ceremonies on April 27 and 28. The two-day event, held at Calvary Orlando Church, was organized and planned with a careful focus on safety and social distancing. Opting for a virtual graduation event in 2020, the goal this time was to host in-person services where graduates from the current and previous year could participate and march.
The commencement speaker was Eddy Moratin, president of Lift Orlando. Lift Orlando is a community improvement initiative founded by local business leaders and community members that focuses primarily on the neighborhoods surrounding Camping World Stadium in Downtown Orlando. Prior to his address, Moratin was presented with AdventHealth University’s Distinguished Community Service Award.
In his commencement address, Moratin spoke of the stewardship of responsibility and asked the graduates to be bold and have an appetite for more than just their own happiness. He challenged them that the pursuit of achieving great things should not be for their own self-satisfaction, but rather how they can make the world a better place for everyone.
In place of one large graduation event, the commencement ceremonies were divided into seven different services held over two days. To maintain adequate social distancing at the venue, only 300 people could be in the building at a single service. Graduates were allowed up to two guests to accompany them, and faculty participation was limited to accommodate as many family members of graduates as possible. Calvary Orlando Church has capacity to seat thousands, but by limiting the number of attendees, adequate social distancing was maintained between each family group.
When the graduation committee, composed of faculty, staff, and students, started planning the event, no vaccine had yet been approved, and many states were still locked down with COVID infection rates climbing across the country. The committee was asked to plan for both face-to-face and virtual event options, depending on the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. Fortunately, the situation by April was at a level that safely allowed for the face-to-face option.
“Our primary goal was always to give the students what they wanted — a face-to-face graduation ceremony. The committee dedicated months of planning and countless meetings to make sure it was a safe and memorable event. They did a wonderful job and have our gratitude,” said AdventHealth University Provost Sandra Dunbar.
The university was also fortunate to have the expertise of top AdventHealth clinical experts to lend their insight and guidance in planning. All graduation ceremonies were simultaneously broadcast live on the university’s YouTube channel.
“Hosting a successful graduation has been an important landmark for the university. AHU has had students on campus on a limited basis for key labs and simulations. Our students have been conducting their normal clinical hours at AdventHealth hospitals and other clinical affiliates. All that has been working well. The success of hosting a safe event that included hundreds of people is the first step of returning to campus more fully in the fall,” said AdventHealth University President Edwin Hernandez.
AdventHealth University | July 2021