HELENA — This weekend, Helena College graduates got their chance to walk across and collect their degrees – though in a slightly different way than usual.
On Friday evening, 34 students took part in a “Grad Walk” at the college’s Airport Campus. Another 56 will be recognized Saturday morning at the Donaldson Campus.
Each student walked into the lecture hall to get their degree one at a time, allowing their friends and family to be present while maintaining distancing.
Sandy Bauman, the dean and CEO of Helena College, says, with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year was challenging and stressful for students and educators alike. She said the graduation ceremony is a great way to recognize all that everyone accomplished.
“Last year, we were unable to have any kind of an event, so this is just worlds better for us,” she said. “We just feel like celebrating with our students is what we need to do.”
Rylan Crawford, from Missoula, earned an associate degree in fire and rescue. He said the change to the ceremony didn’t bother him.
“It’s a little bit of a change, but I’m willing to work through the change,” he said.
Crawford said doing most of this year’s work virtually was a change, but he was still excited about all he learned in the Fire and Emergency Services program.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m definitely ready to start working, get that real experience.”
He said he plans to move to Helena and look for a firefighting job.
Overall, Helena College had 201 graduates this year, but not all of them chose to take part in the modified graduation ceremonies.