Why are we doing a virtual ceremony and a celebration?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having one large Commencement ceremony as originally planned was not feasible. To meet state guidelines and University guidelines and to ensure a meaningful event for all graduating students, we have opted to break Commencement Day up into two parts. The first, a virtual ceremony, brings the entire Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine together as one unified college to hear words of congratulations and wisdom from leaders and friends of the college, as well as collectively experience all ceremonial components of the day. The second, a drive-thru celebration, enables each student the more traditional Commencement experience of walking across a stage to have their name called and receive their diploma cover.
When and where will the celebration be?
The virtual ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 6 at 9:00 a.m. The celebration events will also be on Thursday, May 6 during the afternoon hours. Exact times and details for the celebration events will be provided to students in mid-to-late April once we have a final count of students and families participating. All celebration events will be on the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus in Orange 1 parking lot in front of the Spokane Academic Center (SAC) building.
How will the drive-thru celebration work?
Students and their families will arrive during their designated 15-minute timeslot to participate in the drive-thru event. Timeslots will be assigned the week of April 19 and will largely be grouped by program with Speech & Hearing Sciences going first, Nutrition & Exercise Physiology next, and Medicine at the end.
Students and their families will pull their vehicles up to the stage during their assigned time. The graduating student will exit the vehicle, have their name called, walk across the stage to pick up their diploma cover, have a photo taken with their diploma cover, and return to their vehicle to depart the event. There will not be hooding and no physical contact with WSU leaders will be allowed on stage, however, students may have a family member hood them as they exit their vehicle. Families will be allowed to exit their vehicles briefly to watch their student walk across the stage and take photos. All students and their families will be required to wear a mask at all times and always maintain six feet of distance from others.
How many vehicles and/or people can I bring to the celebration?
Every student will be allowed a maximum of two vehicles for themselves and their family. These must be regular-sized vehicles. No motorhomes, campers, buses, sprinter vans, etc. allowed. Large family groups are not feasible, so please limit your attendees to no more than 4-5 per vehicle including the graduating student.
Will the celebration be livestreamed?
Yes, the celebration will be livestreamed so family members who cannot attend will be able to view their student walk across the stage online. The livestream link will be emailed to registered students and available on this page for friends and family to easily access.
Will I be able to get out of my car at the celebration?
Yes, attendees may exit their vehicles while their student is on stage and will be required to stand in a designated, socially distanced area near the stage. All attendees will be required to wear masks and maintain 6 feet of distance from other individuals outside of their party. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or feeling sick, we ask that you please stay home.
Will the celebration still happen if there is inclement weather?
The celebration will happen rain or shine. If there is severe weather, alternative plans will be made.
Will the celebration be cancelled if Spokane County moves back to Phase 2 guidelines?
No, it will not be cancelled. Part of the reason we opted for this Commencement style was because of its flexibility across phases. If Spokane County returns to Phase 2 guidelines, the celebration will be able to go on as-is under Phase 2.
Is there an official Commencement speaker?
Yes, our featured speaker this year is Dr. Beshara Choucair. Learn more about him in the section below.
Who do I contact for more information?
If you have questions about Commencement Day events, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bechara Choucair, MD
Bechara Choucair, MD, is responsible for overseeing the national vaccination efforts under the Biden-Harris administration. He has been named White House COVID-19 Vaccinations Coordinator and focuses on coordinating the timely, safe, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations for the U.S. population, in close partnership with relevant federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local authorities. Dr. Choucair also leads the administration’s ambitious effort to administer 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days.
Prior to joining the administration, Dr. Choucair served as senior vice president and chief health officer at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Choucair oversaw the organization’s efforts focused on addressing the social health of its 12.2 million members and the 68 million people who live in the communities it serves. This work included the creation of the nation’s largest social health network to meet the housing, food and transportation needs of its members. He also managed Kaiser Permanente’s community health portfolio, including $3.4 billion dedicated to supporting medical financial assistance and charitable care as well as grants and community health initiatives.
Before his time at Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Choucair was the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health for five years before serving as senior vice president of Safety Net and Community Health at Trinity Health. He has been named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Health Executives in the U.S., one of the Most Influential People in Healthcare and as one of the Top 25 Innovators in Healthcare.