Even though COVID-19 halted on-campus operations, it was business as usual for the Texas southern university Department of Athletics as the department honored 33 student-athletes and support staffers who will earn their degrees in the first-ever Student-Athlete Virtual Graduation & Sash Ceremony on Thursday evening.
“I get more joy out of this day than anything,” said Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Kevin Granger. “Knowing that our student-athletes will receive their degrees and move ahead to the next stage of their lives is what this is all about. Yes, you're coming to college to play sports but you are really here to graduate so you can set yourself up for better opportunities once you leave college.”
Under normal circumstances, the student-athletes and the athletic department staff would hold its annual Graduation and Sash Reception on campus as each graduate would receive their student-athlete sashes. With on-campus activities halted due to COVID-19, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Enhancement Kimberly Evans and staff made the transition to the World Wide Web as the student-athletes and athletic department staff were joined together through the Zoom platform.
“The ceremony is a student-athlete tradition and this year will not be any different,” said Evans. “We will not disrupt tradition as the student-athletes have accomplished a lot while at texas southern.”
SAAC President and graduate Vincent Fisher opened the reception with remarks followed by a prayer from Kiya Reeves of women's track & field. Men's golfer Ross “Lucas” Elliott and bowling's Summer Salak both talked about what graduating meant to them and summarized their experiences as student-athletes at tsu.
TSU Provost Dr. Kendall Harris offered words of encouragement which was followed by a slideshow that highlighted the graduates from each team/unit. The TSU alma mater preceded additional remarks from Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Kevin Granger, Interim CFO and Vice President for Administration and Finance Anita Lockridge and Executive Registrar and Interim Senior Executive Director of Enrollment Services Marilynn Square. The department's head coaches and assistant coaches closed out the ceremony by congratulating the student-athletes on their accomplishments and wished them well in their future endeavors.
The student-athletes will be honored with a commemorative video/presentation on Saturday, May 9 on TSU's website and social media platforms. The university will tentatively honor the graduates with an in-person commencement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 8 inside the h&pe Arena. If the August date becomes unrealistic, the next alternative date would be TSU's traditional Winter Commencement ceremony in December 2020. For more information, log on to www.tsu.edu.
A complete list of student-athlete/support staff graduates follows below.
Christopher Van Kuren
Kevin Granger, Jr.
Begona Rodriguez Bravo
MEN'S TRACK & FIELD
WOMEN'S TRACK & FIELD
Christelle Fabiola Nintcheu Kamango