2,000 in attendance for Ball State’s first in person graduation since ’19

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Tara Sundy, Class of 2021 Applied Behavioral Analysis

MUNCIE — In-person graduations are resuming across the country and in Muncie Friday evening hundreds of graduate students were among the first to receive the diplomas, in person, and walk across the stage. 

375 graduate students in the class representing the class of 2021 were able to celebrate the special occasion with their families. 2,000 were welcomed inside Scheumann Stadium – the first time that’s happened in Ball State University’s history. 

Each graduate was allowed four guests, each group physically distanced throughout the stadium, wearing masks, in accordance with health guidelines outlined by the Delaware County Health Department. 

“It obviously has been a significant amount of effort to get here but we know it’s only a small part of the effort that our students have put in to persist through this – through the pandemic and get to this point of academic success,” Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns said. “So it was a significant logistical lift, but they’ve pulled it off, now we just have to hold off the rain.”

Unfortunately, they could not. Ceremonies were scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. as students and families were taking their seats – impending inclement weather forced the evacuation of the stadium. Soon-to-be grads and their families huddled in their cars as the rain passed. 

They were greeted by a double rainbow in the coming moments and were ushered back into the stadium one hour later. 

“I didn’t really think it was gonna happen… I waited a really long time to buy my tickets to come here because I was scared that it was gonna be canceled from the pandemic, not even thinking about the weather,” Class of 2021 Graduate in Applied Behavioral Analysis Tara Sundy said. “Crossing that stage, knowing all we’ve had to overcome to get here… it definitely made all of it worth it.”

Her family traveled from across the country to be here – her fiancé, a member of the military were determined to not let anything prevent them from seeing this special moment. 

“We lived in Hawaii and then we moved to Georgia… and now we’re here, so we move, frequently for him. Ball State’s online program was kinda perfect for me,” Sundy said. “So having them all here, my whole family, especially with how far that they’ve traveled… it’s really nice to share this moment with them.”

Sundy is also a first-generation college graduate. She hopes to become an Applied Behavioral Analyst providing therapy for children with autism 

Friday night’s ceremony for graduate students was the first of five graduation ceremonies to be held at Ball State University this weekend. Each is only for students graduating in 2021.

When it comes to the class of 2020, they’ll have to wait even longer yet to walk across the stage. Their in-person ceremony is scheduled for next weekend. 

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