One year later: ODU holds graduation for Class of 2020


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s commencement season.

While graduation will look different from years past, many schools are opting for in-person ceremonies.

That includes Old Dominion University. The pandemic robbed the Class of 2020 of the typical events to end their senior year, but they got to walk across the stage — one year later — in two graduation ceremonies on Thursday.

“Who would have thought two years ago when we rebuilt this football stadium that we would hold more graduation ceremonies this weekend – seven – than we would hold home football games – six – over two years?” ODU President John Broderick said during Thursday’s ceremony.

Name by name, the Class of 2020 at ODU finally got to walk across the stage in front of their friends and family at Ballard Stadium.

“It’s been a long year. I thought it would never come,” said Morgan Dittfield.

But for Dittfield, it did come and her family was in the stands cheering her on. She is the first in her family to do it.

“Exciting, very exciting. We were waiting for this moment hoping we would have it,” said her father Mike Dittfield.

“I’m so excited I could cry! I’m so happy for her,” said her mother, Lisa Dittfield.

Dittfield graduated with a degree to begin her teaching dreams, and she says over the last year, she learned dreams don’t stop even if you didn’t have a graduation ceremony.

“I did get a job at an elementary school, so it feels really rewarding to be able to say I have a job and now I graduated so now it’s done,” she said.

It’s finally done — but she did have one last message.

“No matter what you can do it, wait for it. It will be worth it in the end,” she said.

Thursday’s ceremonies were dedicated to the Class of 2020. The Class of 2021 will be celebrated Friday into Saturday.

A total of 1,274 graduates from 2020 attended the two in-person ceremonies on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, 2,661 graduates from 2021 will receive degrees in five ceremonies Friday and Saturday.

You can watch the ceremonies live and access archived videos of 2021 graduations at this link.

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