KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee- Knoxville had its first commencement of 2021 on Friday.
It’s a historic day for the university and its graduates as this the first time students were able to have their commencement ceremony in Neyland Stadium.
The last time graduates were able to receive their diploma on Shields-Watkins field was 100 years ago before Neyland Stadium existed.
Students remained six feet apart and as names were called graduates crossed between three separate stages, but despite having to follow these CDC guidelines, graduates and their families are happy to be celebrating in person once again.
“It’s honestly been a roller coaster,” said Alexis Misiura, a Haslam College of Business graduate as she took her seat before the ceremony.
“So proud,” her mom Nicole Misiura said sitting up in the stands waiting to honor her daughter’s hard work. “Especially going through all this COVID stuff I mean it’s really been a difficult year.”
Four years of ups and downs for many students like Alexis led to this moment: graduation.
“I think that it’s super cool that we’re in Neyland today,” said Alexis.
The Haslam College of Business students were the first class to ever graduate at Neyland Stadium.
It’s a historic day for the University of Tennessee and its students after an unprecedented year.
“I feel bad for the people who graduated last semester,” said another graduate, Nathen Kerr. “They had to do it at a laptop which kind of stinks.”
Alexis Misiura adds, “I wish we could do graduation a little different, but I’m just grateful that I’m able to walk across the stage today.”
These graduates’ first day of college looks way different than their last as classes have changed from in-person to virtual over the years.
“We always wanted her to have the college experience and not live at home even though we’re only a few miles away,” said Nicole Misiura. “Just being so isolated and only having that interaction on a computer screen it’s just not the same college experience.”
It’s the perseverance of those students that will get them through their next chapter of life.
“Excited to be done but excited for the next step too,” said Kerr.
“I will actually start at progressive in Knoxville,” said Alexis Misiura. “So I will be staying close and working right along with my major. So I’m very excited.”
Commencement ceremonies will continue until Sunday. The same CDC Guidelines will be followed throughout the weekend.
Nearly 5,000 students will be graduating throughout the weekend.