BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Seven seniors at the University of Colorado Boulder who live in the same house celebrated their graduation Thursday morning while practicing social distancing with their loved ones across the country. They called it their “Porchuation” as the ceremony took place on their front porch and featured live music, a commencement speaker and a champagne toast on a video conference call.

(credit: CBS)

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“I know the circumstances of today will not define what we can do tomorrow or in the next few months when everything returns back to normal,” said Katelyn Skeen, one of the Class of 2020 graduates who participated in the event. She was chosen as the student speaker by the other six seniors.

The housemates came up with the idea together, planning it in advance with multiple meetings. They even had a rehearsal before the live ceremony.

Decorations transformed the porch into a commencement stage while maintaining an intimate setting for this group of graduates. They acknowledged it would never be the same as a traditional graduation but it also gave them a chance to collaborate during the coronavirus pandemic that brought these women even closer together.

(credit: CBS)

“Porchuation is awesome. I’m really happy that we get to do something special, especially during these hard times,” said Michele Wolff. “Porchuation kind of started as this small little idea and then it manifested into this really big project. Where we got a lot of decorations, cake, everyone on board.”

Wolff’s aunt Terri Minsky, the executive producer of the popular TV series Lizzie McGuire, agreed to be their featured speaker and offer advice to the graduates. More than 20 other Zoom calls joined the service to watch live from their homes. Another graduate got her sister to play cello and officiate the event. She read unique biographies of each woman to highlight their time at CU Boulder.

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“You should turn your weaknesses into your strengths,” Minsky told the graduates over the video conference call.

The official commencement for the CU Boulder campus will be Saturday, May 16 as a virtual celebration. Laptops and monitors around the front porch allowed viewers to watch the ceremony remotely and let the seniors see their family as they went through each stage of their graduation. The women lined up in a processional, took their seats, received a diploma, and moved their tassels.

“Obviously it’s sad we can’t graduate with everyone, these are like my best friends, it’s better to have a closer ceremony,” said Emily Carter.

The ceremony ended with the women throwing up their hats and then opening bottles of champagne as a recessional. The housemates have lived together for a year and are all members of the Class of 2020. They are from different cities in different states and cover a range of majors. But they were united in their mission to celebrate their college careers and find a way to celebrate with those most important in their lives.

“Porchuation is a really cool opportunity to get to celebrate all of our hard work the past four years,” said Paige Schneider. “I’m really excited to see where I end up in the future and where everyone else ends up.”

PORCHUATION CLASS OF 2020 GRADUATES:

  • EMILY JORDAN BREIHAN, Marketing
  • EMILY GRACE CARTER, Psychology and Sociology
  • ELEANOR MARIE HODGSON, Spanish and International Affairs
  • MICHELLE FAITH PARTNER, Psychology and Elementary Education
  • PAIGE NICOLE SCHNEIDER, Environmental Studies and Human Geography
  • KATELYN WHITEDOVE SKEEN, Pyschology, Theater, and Leadership
  • MICHELE BRIANA WOLFF, Environmental Studies and Spanish

 

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