USC commencements kick off at the Coliseum, virtually

EXPOSITION PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Commencements starting Friday at USC will look different this year, but new graduates and parents will agree the tassel is worth the hassle.

As the university celebrates the classes of 2020 and 2021, it will be a commencement of firsts.

Following California's health and safety guidelines, ceremonies will be held twice a day with limited capacity and distancing requirements over the course of a week -- May 14-20.

For the first time since 1950, the ceremony will occur at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -- and each graduate will proceed across the stage for his or her diploma.

The commencement will also honor Trojans from the class of 2020, whose in-person ceremony was put on hold due to the pandemic. Ceremonies will take place at 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the Coliseum and will be livestreamed on the internet.

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The event will combine elements of USC's traditional main graduation ceremony with those of individual school and college ceremonies. Graduates will have the opportunity to proceed across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers and have photos taken while projected on gigantic screens at the stadium.

Participation is expected by the full graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, including international students who were permitted to travel to the U.S. Due to distancing requirements, it will not be possible to hood doctoral candidates. Instead, hooding ceremonies will take place in the future when restrictions are lifted.

Bina Venkataraman, an American journalist, author and policy expert will deliver the commencement address on Friday from the Coliseum. She is the editorial page editor at The Boston Globe, formerly serving as senior adviser for climate change innovation for the White House.



"I was pretty positive that we wouldn't have an in-person celebration," said Jake Bubman, of the class of 2021. "So for me, it's a really, really special experience. We never thought that we'd be here, and especially over the last year, year and a half, it's been incredibly challenging for us to be isolated from our friends, from our families, from our peers. So to be here together to experience this one last tradition together, I think it's a really incredible experience that we'll never forget."

More than 30,000 diplomas will be awarded over the next seven days.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, pre-registration is required of graduates and guests -- a maximum of two guests per graduate is allowed. Pre-registered graduates and guests will have received information with attendance requirements, which include social distancing and wearing face coverings.

Anyone who has not pre-registered will not be permitted inside the Coliseum. Gatherings are not allowed outside the stadium.

For complete information, visit the USC commencement 2021 website at commencement.usc.edu.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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