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FSU Class of 2020 Graduate In-Person One Year Later

Over a dozen socially distanced students in cap and gown stand in an auditorum
FSU 2020 graduates participate in one of three in-person ceremonies, which were also live-streamed online, on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Florida State University held an in-person ceremony for 2020 graduates over the weekend, giving them a chance to celebrate like every other class —on campus with their classmates.

Thara Vasquez, 22, was among 2,100 graduates who walked across the stage one year after completing their degree program. Vasquez received a bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate and now has a job as a mortgage lending officer in Miami.

Valerie Crowder
Thara Vasquez, 22, participated in FSU's in-person graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

She says coming back to campus one year after leaving college amid a pandemic felt "surreal."

“I feel like it didn’t hit me until I was actually sitting there in the seat and watching the ceremony," Vasquez said. "It was hard to close that chapter for sure.”

Last year, she and her family watched the university’s virtual graduation event together at home, Vasquez said. This year, they got a traditional on-campus ceremony.

"It solidified everything for me, and it kind of gave me a visualization of what I had actually done over the last four years."

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.