It probably wasn’t the USC graduation they had imagined. Thousands gathered around their computers, smartphones and TV screens in May for festivities honoring Trojan graduates from the Class of 2020 — and the party went on, online.
To support public health efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19, grads and their families celebrated virtually instead of gathering at Alumni Memorial Park. The event conferred more than 19,000 degrees to graduates. Celebrity appearances, a performance by the Spirit of Troy and other surprises gave the online celebration its own pomp and circumstance.
Here are a few of our favorite moments from a day when Trojans toasted their achievements many miles apart but together in spirit. (And rest assured, graduates will be welcomed back for a more traditional celebration on campus — with hugs — when it’s safe.)
Trojan Graduates Flock to Social Media to Celebrate
Grads and family members shared their pride on Instagram and beyond using special GIFs and story filters. Look back at their moments using #2020Trojan, #USCGrad and #USCMemories on your favorite social media platform.
USC President Enjoys a Memorable Milestone
President Carol L. Folt listened to speeches, applauded students and celebrated graduates on video. This event held a special place in her heart. It was her first opportunity to confer degrees to graduating students at USC.
“Much of what I’ve come to love about our university, about the Trojan spirit and the Trojan Family, comes from my experiences with you, especially in these recent difficult times,” she told the graduating class. “I’ve watched in awe as you’ve faced disappointment and hardship and kept going.”
Family and Friends Join the Fun from Afar
Maria Del Pilar Morales ’20 (shown below) took in USC’s first virtual graduation from the comfort of her home in Orange, California. The global health major wore a cardinal-and-gold sash as she celebrated with family.
Star Power Brings Glitz to Online Celebration
Famous friends gave shoutouts to USC graduates during the conferring of degrees. Among the online guests: Sam “Bam” Cunningham ’73, Mark Hamill, Lisa Ling, Kyle Mooney ’07, Mandy Moore, USC Trustee Fred Ryan ’77, JD ’80 and John Williams. Prior commencement speaker Will Ferrell ’90 even made a surprise appearance during the president’s speech to congratulate Trojan graduates.
Creativity Abounds as Trojan Graduates Rejoice
The pandemic postponed commencement until large groups are allowed to assemble again, but Trojans like Oliver Tacto MPH ’16, MSW ’16, DSW ’20 found other ways to celebrate. In this case, it involved a few minor adjustments to the Hollywood sign, courtesy of his friend’s photo editing skills.
Spirit of Troy Serenades Class of 2020
Although members of the Trojan Marching Band hit their notes from miles apart, they managed — as always — to play as one. They helped bring the celebration to a close with a familiar Trojan classic, Conquest, proving that despite an unusual end to the school year, some things never change.