Drive-Thru Diploma Parade Celebrates Success of Spring Islander Graduates

By Olivia Santos | Published: June 18, 2020

Drive-Thru Diploma Parade Celebrates Success of Spring Islander Graduates

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Spring 2020 graduates were offered an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments while receiving their diploma during Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s inaugural Drive-thru Diploma Parade. The parade, held in four different sessions over two days, was organized by the Division of Academic Affairs. The goal was to offer a tangible sense of accomplishment to Islander students whose semester was shaken up after classes went fully online in March and commencement was postponed, following the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students have invested their time, their energy, and their intellect into completing their degrees,” said Dr. Clarenda Phillips, Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “Their diploma means reaching their dreams.”

While spring graduates still have the opportunity to cross the stage during the Summer Commencement Ceremony in August, more than 380 Islanders showed up in their cars, with friends, family, and even pets at their side. With cheers of support and congratulations from faculty, staff, and alumni, students drove through the parade receiving their diplomas from the University Registrar’s Office, a commemorative diploma cover from the Office of the Provost and Islander Alumni Association, and a lapel pin and goodies from the Islander Alumni Association.

“I honestly thought I was just going to drive up and they would give me my diploma – but to see all the faculty and staff here, the alumni giving gifts, it means so much to me. Since I immigrated from India, it took me eight years to receive my bachelor’s degree – it’s a milestone for me,” said Fini CalebSolomonraj, computer science graduate. “This is my time to contribute back – I want to come back to the Island and teach and give the same kind of support I received to students and women wanting to pursue a computer science degree. I want to show them how my University was there for me, even through times like this.”

While students, staff, and faculty alike agree the Islander community is facing unprecedented challenges, the parade offered a warm welcome to post-graduate life.

“Nobody give up -- this is the time for us to keep building momentum,” said Dr. Margaret Lara ’98, ’01, ’12, Islander Alumni Association President. “Right now, the spirit of the University is at its highest. A lot of people have taken the time to come out and support our students even though this is a time none of us have ever experienced. We want to continue to make sure our graduates know they are appreciated, supported, and loved.”

Spring graduates who were not able to attend the Drive-thru diploma parade are still able to pick up their diploma in the Student Services Center on campus, or can have their diplomas mailed to their permanent address on file in the SAIL student portal. Undergraduate students receiving Latin Honors will have their cords mailed to their permanent address as well.

“It’s nice to be have the chance to be acknowledged rather than just getting my diploma mailed to me at home” said James Rogers, English graduate. “We have some great minds here to learn from, and now I’m ready to come back in the fall for my graduate degree – that’s what’s next for me.”