KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY, Pa. | Hundreds of socially distanced chairs are spread out in front of a stage inside the O'Pake Fieldhouse as Kutztown University is making good on a promise they made near the start of the pandemic.
“We promised our graduates from 2020 that as soon as we were able to have an in-person ceremony, we would have a ceremony for them,” said Matt Santos, with Kutztown University.
The Class of 2020 will get to walk, but for some set to take the stage, reality has yet to set in as one soon-to-be grad recalled the world over a year ago.
"I honestly thought that we weren't gonna be here,” said Kutztown grad Phillip Corley. “I was thinking of what would happen during the pandemic and I just didn't think that we were gonna be here with all our friends."
And those about to take the once-thought-of "walk that wouldn't be", through those socially distanced seats inside the venue say they relied on friends and family to get here.
"My friends definitely being here was just awesome,” Corley said. ”Getting those memories with my friends is just an amazing feeling."
Graduation ceremonies are already emotionally charged events for all involved, but with the remnants of a waning pandemic still around, this feels different.
“I think there's gonna be a lot of emotion tonight, if you look at the past year in general what the students, the graduates have been through, to continue going to college amidst the pandemic,” Santos said.