No graduation – no problem. See how one Georgia Southern senior took care of her ceremony onlineApril 29, 20202 min read
For many, this spring was to be a milestone commemorating many years of hard work and dedication. Graduating from university is the official step into adulthood and the achievement of academic excellence.
But this year is different. COVID-19 is either restricting celebrations or cancelling them outright.
For some students, it is a disappointing moment. Others, like Rebecca Hooper, a senior marketing major at Georgia Southern University, saw an opportunity to innovate.
On Tuesday, March 17, during spring break, Georgia Southern announced the cancellation of its in-person Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies for Statesboro and Savannah. Since that time, the University has announced an online ceremony for graduates on May 8 and 9 and hopes to be able to hold a rescheduled in-person ceremony on or before commencement in December.
As the news broke, Hooper and her friend were playing Minecraft, a sandbox video game which allows users to create digital worlds where they can build as many landscapes and structures as they like. As they played the game and chatted online, Hooper had what seemed like a crazy idea.
“I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we built the stadium?’ I just said it as a joke at first, but then the next day rolled around and I started on it. And then it kept on going and going and I couldn’t stop,” she said.
Two days later (and more than eight hours of digital construction), Hooper had created Glenn Bryant Field and the home side of the stadium. She also built a commencement stage complete with a jumbotron that said, “Hail Southern! One More Time!” Knowing that no ceremony would be complete without Freedom’s Flight, Hooper added “Freedom” on the stage. However, the closest thing she could find to the University’s bald eagle mascot was a green parrot, who let out a little squawk and bobbed up and down.
Hooper posted a flythrough of the stadium on Twitter, with a comment that said, “GSU said no graduation in Paulson. I said Minecraft graduation in Paulson #HailSouthern.” The response was immediate and overwhelming.
Hooper has big plans for her virtual stadium. She’s planning on doing some online tours through Twitch, a video game playthrough app. She’s also invited her friends to help her finish building the stadium, complete with Bishop Fieldhouse, press boxes, sky boxes, and the large parking lot where she hopes to invite people to build their own virtual tailgating structures.
If you are journalist and would like to know more about this story - simply reach out to Georgia Southern Director of Communications Jennifer Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview.