UTEP set to host in-person commencement ceremonies in May

Julian Herrera, Staff Reporter

After more than a year-long of virtual activities, UTEP announced two commencement ceremonies will be held in-person at the Sun Bowl in May for all graduates of the Class of 2020 and 2021 spring and summer candidates. 

According to a news release sent out March 24 by UTEP’s Office of the Chief of Staff, the ceremonies will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 14, and Saturday, May 15.  

Friday’s ceremony will recognize bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates and candidates in the colleges of business administrationeducation and liberal Arts. Saturday’s ceremony will honor graduates and candidates in the colleges of engineering, health sciences and science, and the schools of nursing and pharmacy, according to the announcement. The event will also be livestreamed. 

“We’re looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our 2020 and 2021 graduates,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said in the news release. “Now that COVID-19 cases are declining in our community, and we have been able to vaccinate many of our students, faculty, staff and their family members through the UTEP vaccination program, we can safely host a meaningful in-person ceremony in the Sun Bowl.” 

Each graduate can invite two guests to attend in-person. As the University continues to monitor public health conditions and can calculate the number of graduates in attendance, the number of invites may increase. 

Adrian Escobedo, a UTEP philosophy student graduating in May, is looking forward to celebrating alongside his family this semester. 

“I feel great about being able to celebrate and have my parents witness that accomplishment,” Escobedo said. “I feel like I owe a great debt to them and I hope that they can feel like it’s a celebration for them too.” 

Wilson said it is vital for each graduate to report whether they will be participating in the event in-person by April 16, so guest invitations and safety guidelines can be implemented accordingly. 

We don’t have a good way to estimate how many graduates from 2020 will want to come back and participate in person,” Wilson said. 

In 2020, UTEP requested feedback from Class of 2020 on how to proceed with the year’s commencement ceremoniesResults of a survey revealed an overwhelming 45% of students chose to postpone the commencement to May to celebrate in as conventional way as possible at the Sun Bowl stadium.  

According to officials, face coverings will be required, and social distancing will be practiced at the outdoor event, with hand sanitizing stations throughout the stadium and additional safety protocols based on the CDC and state guidelines. 

The City of El Paso reported 2,306 COVID-19 active cases as of March 24, with 333, 306 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered 

Julian Herrera may be reached at [email protected]