"How do you make a virtual graduation personal?"

I just want to share one of my all-time favorite quotes—a quote that was reinforced even more as we conducted our first ever virtual graduation ceremony. We held this private online event for Analytics SkillsCourse (ASC) Cohort 1 last April 17, 2020.

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant." –Horace

I’ve held onto this quote for a while now, but the time that it truly hit me deeply was when we took our class picture (screenshot!).

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Having this class photo to keep forever made me think about two applications of Horace’s quote in my life now.

I am privileged to have witnessed the journey and steady growth of these individuals in our ASC program. They represent a wide range of industries, come from different age groups, and have varying levels of experience, but at the end of the day, they are all trying their best to level up and be prepared for what the future holds post-Covid.

ASC Cohort 1 is the first batch of Eskwelabs students to experience a totally online learning set-up, but that did not stop these individuals from flourishing and surprising us with their grit and enthusiasm. Truly, talent was awakened amidst great adversity.

I am thankful to be part of a team that understands the importance of having a human-first approach to events—online or onsite. Our first totally online graduation ceremony? It’s one I’ll never forget!

4 SIMPLE IDEAS FOR YOU TO MAKE YOUR ONLINE GRADUATION MEANINGFUL AND MEMORABLE

1. Make the space feel safe with a Team Sharing

Aside from having your regular opening and closing remarks, it’s good to carve out time for the program’s team to speak. In our Graduation PPT presentation, we gave each of our ASC team members the freedom to decorate their own slides with their favorite class screenshots and memories from the course.

2. Make your graduates realize how far they’ve come with an Accomplishments Slideshow

If there’s one class exercise that can be shared publicly to the group, then we recommend creating a slideshow that compiles the batch’s submissions. Seeing their work for that particular assignment side by side with the rest of the class can elicit feelings of solidarity and nostalgia. We did this with their Current Me vs. Future Me exercise—their very first one!—from the course’s Career Development curriculum. It was a beautiful thing to see, giving us proud parent vibes.

3. Make them feel seen and cared for with Student Awards

It’s common knowledge that there are only a limited number of awards given out during graduations. However, to take the Eskwelabs Experience a step further, we created a set of base awards for ASC. Here are the five awards: Perseverance, Gratitude, Liveliness, Learner’s Attitude, and Growth. Before handing them out, we explained what each award meant and why it would be given to a specific student. As we called each one to the main page of the Zoom call, we announced their award and took a screenshot of them with our team. We saw their excitement flood the chat box with nonstop “Congratulations!” per classmate and repeated “Clap” reactions.

4. Make them empowered to speak with Graduation Toasts

If there’s an opportunity for anyone to express their gratitude, then it’s always worth it to allocate time for such an activity. Not only is it healthy, but it also fosters a sense of community, which we hope will translate into life-long friendships among the students. We gave the graduates time to speak up and share their thoughts. They gave thanks for their classmates and to the Eskwelabs team. By the end, we were enveloped with so much love it was hard to contain our smiles.

If you have any suggestions to make virtual events—perhaps a graduation or an anniversary celebration—more personal, then please feel free to email us your awesome ideas or message our Facebook page!