For some 500 graduates at South Louisiana Community College, spring commencement scheduled for 10 a.m. May 13 at the Cajundome will mark another step away from the pandemic lifestyle and a step closer toward returning to normal times.
Christine Payton, SLCC spokesperson, said Dr. Deiadra “Dee” Garret, a pediatric surgeon at Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette, will be the commencement speaker. The ceremony is expected to last about an hour.
Payton said the decision to go with an in-person graduation followed consecutive “drive-through” versions of graduation in spring and fall 2020, in which students drove through the campus and received graduation materials.
The decision to graduate in person this semester followed COVID-19 guidance by Gov. John Bel Edwards. She said SLCC is following the advice of health experts in planning the event.
She said tickets will not be required; masks and social distancing will be required, however. The Cajundome seats 12,068.
Graduates will include students from “work ready” programs and those who earned their high school equivalency diplomas. It also includes graduates of all SLCC campuses, including those in these parishes: Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary. SLCC recently added a campus in Avoyelles.
SLCC has held most classes virtually this semester. Payton said there are few students on campus, and she has heard little about COVID-19 cases at SLCC.
In the fall, more “face-to-face” classes will be offered, although not as many as there were before the pandemic. The plan, she said, is to return to classes safely and gradually.
Around the U.S., enrollment declines on campus have come most steeply at community colleges. She said SLCC had some enrollment decreases, as well, but she said indications are that enrollment will increase in the fall.
“We are tracking well,” she said. “I think we are getting over the dip.”
SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles will hold graduations at 6 p.m. May 26 and May 27 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Gray Stream, president of Matilda Stream Management, will be speak at both ceremonies.
SOWELA invited graduates from spring 2020 and fall 2020 to participate in the ceremonies. SOWELA expects more than 250 spring graduates.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will hold graduation on May 14-15 on campus.