College holds first normal graduation ceremony in 2 years


Brandon Hamilton

For the first time in two years, AACC is having a normal graduation ceremony.

Zack Buster and Jenna Lagoey

AACC will hold its graduation face-to-face on May 26 for the first time since 2019.

President Dawn Lindsay made the announcement at the college’s Board of Trustees meeting on March 8, two weeks after saying graduation would take the form of a “carmencement” as it has for the past two years.

During carmencement, graduating students drove around Ring Road while faculty and parents cheered them on from the sidewalks.

“I couldn’t look a student in the eye and say, you know, we’re doing all this restricting of opportunity and we’re not masking as a mandate, but we can’t do a face-to-face graduation ceremony for you.” Lindsay said.

The college will lift its mask mandate for campuses on May 19.

“There is something to the pomp and circumstance … of graduation and getting a diploma and walking across the stage and having family there in a more formal environment for something that is so special,” Lindsay added.

In 2020 and 2021, the college held a “carmencement” instead of a formal graduation ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The college will hold two ceremonies on May 26 at Live! Casino & Hotel.

John Grabowski, dean of enrollment services, said he expects 300 to 400 graduates to attend each ceremony.

Lindsay said students have told her they want an in-person graduation.

“If you look at some of our traditional students, they didn’t even have a high school graduation because in June of 2020, everything was kind of closed,” Lindsay said.

Lindsey said she would prefer a face-to-face graduation as well.

“I think it’s probably the one time in the lives of the students … that they want the tradition and they want to hear the pomp and circumstance and they want the cap and gown and they want to flip their tassel and they want to carry their diploma,” Lindsey said

Still, the president said she enjoyed the past two carmencement ceremonies.

“People could be with their families in their car and, you know, their families, their grandparents, their dogs, their kids,” she said.

Grabowski called graduation “one of the most special days of our academic year …the culmination of students’ hard work and recognition of their attainment. … It’s a wonderful celebration.”

Some students said they share the sentiment.

Second-year business transfer student Evan Martin said it’s his chance to experience graduation after not having one in high school because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’ve kind of missed out on a regular graduation,” Martin said. “Yeah, so I think it’d be pretty cool if I can actually walk this time.”

Nick Pekel, a third-year chemistry transfer student, agreed.

“I don’t really think that there is a way that we can adequately honor and show the respect for the students who made it this far without something in person,” he said.