DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College will confer degrees and certificates during a virtual graduation set to be broadcast Friday night.

With the state’s COVID-19 restrictions now in place through May 30, DACC students who were set to participate in a traditional, in-person commencement ceremony originally scheduled for last week expressed a desire to some type of commencement sooner rather than later.

President Stephen Nacco told DACC’s Board of Trustees last month that commencement would take place as a virtual experience with the ceremony being streamed live online at 7 p.m. Friday, via YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/DACCgrad and repeated at 11 a.m. Saturday, on WBUI-TV Channel 23. The broadcast will be available on the YouTube channel for viewing after the debut.

More than 400 graduates, earning associate degrees and certificates during the fall 2019 semester as well as the spring and summer 2020 semesters, submitted photos to participate in this year’s ceremony.

The deans will read the names of the graduates and their photo will appear on the screen with some biographical information. The biographical information will include the graduate’s certificate or degree and any honors he or she earned.

The video was created using graduate-submitted photos. All graduate names will be read, regardless of photo submission.

Students who have a cumulative grade-point average of 4.0 will graduate with the designation summa cum laude and will be awarded a gold tassel, gold cord and a medallion. An unprecedented 16 graduates have earned that distinction.

They are Dalton Ross Beddow of Catlin, Criminal Justice AA; Jacob R. Bergstedt of Hoopeston, Philosophy AA; Annabella Falanga of Torre Del Greco, Italy, Physical Therapy AA; Maria Francesca of Falanga of Torre Del Greco, Italy, Interior Design AA; Kari Jo Free of Danville, Nursing AAS; Dylann C. Hall of Georgetown, Pre-Vet/Animal Science AGS; Steffanie A. Higgins of Danville, Business Administrative Technology AAS; Garrett Joseph Lashuay of Oakwood, Health & Physical Education AA; Sarah A. Nehring of Peoria, Health Information Technology AAS; Tracie Toinette Sanders of Danville, Accounting AAS; Victoria Santillana of Hoopeston, Computer Programming & Web Design AAS; Ashton C. Sawyer of Catlin, sychology/Sociology AA; Lacey Jo Steinbaugh of Georgetown, Elementary Education AA; Donna Marie Thomas of Danville, Accounting AAS; Leslie Ann Van Camp of Catlin, Early Childhood Child Care AAS, and Bernard W. Walkup of Kentland, Ind., Radiologic Technology AAS.

Graduates of distinction will be recognized during the commencement broadcast. In addition to the summa cum laude candidates, those with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.75-3.99 will graduate with the designation magna cum laude and will wear a gold tassel and a gold cord; and those with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50-3.749 will graduate with the designation cum laude and will wear a gold tassel. Students’ ability to be recognized at the graduation ceremony is based on the cumulative grade-point average calculated at the end of the fall semester prior to the spring ceremony.

The broadcast will include remarks by Executive Vice President for Instruction and Student Services David Kietzmann, who is retiring in June after a 50-year career at DACC. Also included will be the awarding of an honorary degree to Richard “Dick” Cheney, a long-time friend of the college who has been a student, coach, faculty member, administrator and a member of the Board of Trustees, and is currently serving on the DACC Foundation Board.

The DACC Class of 2020 features some notable graduates. The group includes twins from Italy who played on the women’s basketball team and both ended up as summa cum laude candidates, and a Marine Master Sergeant currently stationed in North Carolina who completed his degree completely online while deployed multiple times despite hostile environments and unreliable Internet connections. This group of graduates has persevered through not only the normal trials and tribulations of college, but also the added burden of completing their education completely online during a pandemic.

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