2022 U of A Graduation in person ceremony takes place

The University of Arkansas welcomed family and friends to first in-person graduation ceremonies since 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It is graduation weekend at the University of Arkansas. However, things look a bit different this year, or at least different than the past two years.

As the COVID-19 pandemic worked its way around the globe, many education institutions shifted to virtual learning and even virtual graduation. Since 2019, this is the first year the University of Arkansas has held an in-person graduation welcoming family and friends to come and join their graduates.

“This is the first one that we’ve had that’s sort of our return to normal, with people in the audience cheering, being able to give hugs to the graduates, being able to pose close together,” said Alena Allen, Interim Dean for the University of Arkansas’ School of Law. “So, this is the first one that feels like 2019.”

However, the return to in-person graduation still had its moments of anxiousness. Yet, once the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” began to fill Barnhill Arena, faculty, graduates, and the audience settled in for the age-old tradition of moving tassels to the left and walking across the stage to accept diplomas.

“There’s nothing like a graduation. It’s just full of hope and joy and happiness and celebration,” said Allen. “Being able to celebrate, being able to see the smiles, hear the sounds, I think it’s all worth it.”

Multiple graduations were held at the University on Friday and Saturday at Barnhill Arena and Bud Walton Arena. Graduates and their families celebrated the milestone with pictures, hugs, smiles, and laughter.

One new alumni got to spend the Saturday graduating from the Sam M. Walton College of Business before heading to join their family in the audience as they watched his sister walk across the stage for the School of Law.

Matthew Manuel said he breathed a sigh of relief when he knew graduation would be in-person this year, and offered a bit of advice for the next graduating class.

“It goes really quick, so take a moment,” said Manuel. “I feel like I was just a freshman the other day, so, follow your dreams.”

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