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VCU Graduate Celebrates Commencement Online After 30 Year College Hiatus

Glynis Huges in graduation regalia by VCU sign.
VCU celebrated its Spring 2020 graduates through a virtual ceremony Friday. For graduate Glynis Hughes, the day was more than three decades in the making. (Photo: Jay Paul)

*VPM News intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story.

Glynis Hughes had to put her studies on hold when she gave birth to her daughter more than thirty years ago. The 52-year-old graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University Friday with a degree in English.

VCU held its virtual commencement ceremony for Spring 2020 graduates online. This semester’s in-person ceremonies were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It definitely was a loss because I’d been looking forward to graduating on the stage, walking, having people there,” Hughes said.

But she says the fact that her ceremony was not in-person is not getting her down on her big day. After all, she says nothing about her educational experience has been typical.

“It would make sense that the year I graduated, a pandemic would happen,” Hughes said. “When I had that thought, I just started laughing so hard and I couldn’t stop.”

Her husband, 48-year-old Gary Hughes, says he’s proud and excited. He recently enrolled in community college classes, after his wife inspired him to go back to school.

“She just showed me how much education means to not only your life, but also to people around you,” he said. “I have a son and he’s in school. With kids, when you tell them, it kind of goes in one ear and out the other, but when you show them, it kind of sticks with them a little bit more.”

Gary is now studying liberal arts at Reynolds Community College, and Glynis will be continuing her education through a graduate program at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. 

“Regardless of what’s happening now, it doesn’t take away from what I’ve done to get here. COVID-19 doesn’t get to take away from the work that’s gone into graduating from VCU because it just doesn’t have that kind of power,” Glynis said.

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