University of Guelph graduates from 2020 and 2021 are getting a chance to cross the stage with their peers and enjoy an enhanced graduation experience like no other. 

Students who graduated during these two years missed out on the traditional convocation experience due to COVID-19. They told University convocation organizers they wanted to both cross the stage and celebrate with their friends and family.  So, U of G is holding two sets of ceremonies this year — one for the class of 2022, and one a week later, on June 23, for 2020 and 2021 alumni grads who were unable to attend an in-person ceremony. 

To continue the celebrations, organizers have planned a curated event called #GradGala on June 23 in several themed locations throughout the University Centre (UC), and the event is open to all alumni.  

“The event is going to be really special and pretty unique among universities in Ontario,” said Claire Alexander, associate director, ceremonies and events. “We are really excited to be able to bring our grads back together for one last celebration of all they accomplished during their time at U of G.” 

Recreating memorable times spent on campus 

Spaces will be completely transformed and the event will include giveaways and a photo booth to capture the moment with friends. 

A piano lounge in the UC courtyard lounge will offer classy karaoke with dueling pianos. Peter Clark Hall will become a “barn” for one last Aggie pub with all-request music, line dancing and mechanical bull rides.  

The Brass Taps pub will offer a marathon trivia night — an event many graduates told organizers they would love to have again. 

“We have focused our planning on what would optimize the experience of those students who missed out on a convocation ceremony during their graduating year,” said Alexander.  

“We wanted to offer them a real party where they could experience again, with their friends and family, all of the things they missed most about U of G.” 

There will be quiet places, too, like the Café at the Lookout (UC, 5th floor), where grads can chat over complimentary dessert and coffee while reconnecting with friends they may not have seen in person since they left campus. 

“We can’t give graduates back their time together that was ended so abruptly by the pandemic, but we can help recreate some of those memorable times spent with friends and classmates on campus,” said Alexander. 

With the event being held the night before Alumni Weekend begins, any alumni, including 2022 alumni who graduated the week before, may buy tickets for the June 23 #GradGala event. For those who want to spend a little longer on campus and relive some memories, alumni they can even book a night in residence. 

A unique convocation ceremony 

A graduate in conovcation robes sits beside their degree and a bouquet of flowers on a large U of G sign

As for the convocation ceremony for grads of 2020 and 2021, even that will be unique.  

Instead of being assigned a ceremony based on their college, grads can choose one of four ceremony times, space permitting, to ensure they are there with friends from across campus. 

Grads unable to attend any of the alumni convocation ceremonies can still choose to attend GradGala and to walk the red carpet in the Gryphon Fieldhouse on June 25 during Alumni Weekend to capture photos with various U of G backdrops.  

Those unable to attend in June can return Oct. 10 for one of several fall convocation ceremonies. 

Register for GradGala.