As COVID-19’s social distancing rules cancel graduation ceremonies around the country, the class of 2020 will likely find themselves at home come the big day, watching the proceedings on their screens. In light of these cancellations, social media giants such as Facebook and YouTube plan to celebrate graduates by hosting their own virtual commencements — all packed with celebrity guests.
Leading up to and after National Graduation Day on May 17th, there are many virtual celebrations to choose from, featuring distinguished speakers such as Barack and Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Oprah, and others. From WWE champions to the Jonas Brothers, here is a list of virtual commencement speakers and participants.
This virtual commencement adds a twist on TikTok challenges. Now through May 31, for every video posted on TikTok using #TossYourCap, T-Mobile will donate $5, up to $200,000 to Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national non-profit that helps youth and young adults achieve success after they graduate. To participate, graduates can make a TikTok of them tossing their graduation cap to the song “All I Do Is Win (feat T-Pain),” by DJ Khaled, and tag it to #TossYourCap.
Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a classic graduation gift — one John Cena and Scott Kelly used as a jumping-off point for their own Seuss-themed graduation celebration. The festivities kicked off on May 1st and include readings, graduation photo-sharing, inspirational words of wisdom, and more. Other activities and decorations available to help throw your own party are available on the website.
Facebook’s event will be co-hosted by The Office vets Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak on May 15th at 11 a.m. PT. “The ceremony will acknowledge high schools and colleges in the U.S, by name, state by state, including photos and videos of the class of 2020, and messages from deans and principals across the country,” according to a statement. Miley Cyrus will also sing her iconic anthem “The Climb.”
Podcast Commencement: Speeches for the class of 2020 celebrates grads with star-studded episodes featuring speakers like soccer player and World Cup champ Abby Wambach, Katie Couric, makeup artist Bobbi Brown, Chelsea Handler, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, former football player Eli Manning, Sienna Miller, singer-songwriter Khalid, journalist Guy Raz, Tim McGraw, and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Her Campus’ I’m Still Graduating
Date: May 15th
Speakers: Nico Tortorella, Frankie J. Grande, Teyana Taylor, Marcia Gay Harden, reporter Jodi Kantor, soccer player Kealia Ohai Watt, Logan Browning, Supermajority co-founder Cecile Richards, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, P&G Beauty CEO Alex Keith, Lennon Stella, the WWE’s Natalya Neidhart, Lilly Pulitzer CEO Michelle McQuality Kelly, and Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.
I’m Still Graduating features business titans as well as special performances from Liam Payne, Austin Mahone, Jesse McCartney, Drax Project, Grouplove, and many others. “This graduation is all about the class of 2020, so it was pivotal to us that class of 2020 students don’t just get to watch it, but actually get to play an integral part in the event,” says Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Her Campus Media.
Former U.S. president Barack Obama will be sharing a special message during a virtual commencement to honor Historically Black Colleges and Universities at 2:00 p.m. ET. 78 HBCUs have joined together to celebrate the 2020 grads, honoring more than 25,000 students for their achievements. The even is hosted by comedian and actor Kevin Hart, with guest appearances from Steve Harvey, Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett, Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and academic leaders from participating HBCUs. Other participants include 10-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul, 8-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, Debbie Allen and Vivica Fox.
Date: May 16th
Main speaker: Barack Obama
Graduate Together will air on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, as well as Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms. LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Alicia Keys and Ben Platt will appear at the ceremony, which kicks off 8 p.m. ET.
Keys took the stage to perform her acoustic song “Underdog” at the virtual graduation. She began the song by dedicating the performance to students who are “defying the odds.”
Verizon’s Class of 2020: Ready for Anything
Date: May 22nd-June 12th
Speakers: Estée Lauder executive chairman William P. Lauder, San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love, Global Citizen co-founder and CEO Hugh Evans, Away co-founder Jen Rubio, Bill Clinton, and Verizon chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg.
Verizon’s commencement series will feature 30-minute sessions over the span of four weeks, with well-known figures in business, politics, and sports. Those who tune in will be able to interact with the speakers and submit questions to be answered during a Q&A. The series will be held on Verizon’s LinkedIn for all graduates. Dates for the series are May 22th, May 29th, June 5th, and June 12th, with times to be announced.
The virtual commencement ceremony Dear Class of 2020 will premiere on Saturday, June 6th, at 3 p.m. ET. BTS will headline the “virtual grad night afterparty,” and the virtual commencement will feature appearances by Alicia Keys, Kerry Washington, Zendaya, and Jackie Aina, alongside YouTube creators like Dude Perfect and the Try Guys.
TED-Ed, TED talks’ youth and education initiative, has launched a series of TED talks that allows everyone to record their own video to share. It is for graduates or anyone else who wants to share positivity and wisdom for the class of 2020. The videos can be viewed on their website or under #GraduaTEDTalks for everyone to watch.