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Mercer School of Medicine and Georgia College's plans for virtual commencement ceremonies

Mercer University and Georgia College explain the plans for their decisions to hold virtual commencement ceremonies because of COVID-19.

MACON, Ga. — "10-15 years, I've been kind of pursuing this and to kind of finally see it come to fruition is pretty exciting," fourth year Mercer School of Medicine student Jack Borkovich said.

He has a clear picture of his future as a doctor, but he probably didn't imagine his medical school graduation would take place online.

"I'm really grateful to Mercer that they're doing something to kind of mark this and they're doing everything they can to make it special," Borkovich said.

Mercer School of Medicine Dean Jean Sumner says the COVID-19 pandemic left them no choice but to hold a virtual commencement ceremony.

"It's very hard to delay a medical school graduation. The last figure I heard was that 80 percent of medical schools across the country have canceled graduation," Sumner said.

The university will email a link to the video and post it on their website on Saturday May 2 at 2 p.m.

"We recorded parts of it on the stage, there are people who are sheltering in place who could not be on that stage, but we've worked very hard to make it a nice video," Sumner said.

Georgia College also prerecorded their president and guest speakers' speeches. Spokesman Omar Odeh says they are using an outside company to help with the broadcast.

"It'll be seen as a premiere YouTube event, but it'll premiere like a live program. Students will have an opportunity or anyone really to log in and have comments as it's going live," Odeh said.

Both universities want to make the virtual experience feel as special as it would in-person.

"It's the first time we've done it at Georgia College, but we just felt we had to do something now, at least until we could do something later," Odeh said.

"There's so many good young people in this class, so to not be able to recognize them in the public venue is sad. So we're doing the second best thing," Sumner said.

Both universities will show pictures of each graduate when their name is called.

Georgia College's virtual graduate ceremony is May 1 at 7 p.m. Their undergraduate ceremony is May 2nd at 9 a.m.

The school is considering having an in-person ceremony later this year.

Mercer's School of Medicine has nearly 200 graduates this year.
Georgia College's class of 2020 includes about 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

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