Bellin College pivots to drive-in graduation

One of the bright spots during the pandemic for the college has been able to provide the 134 graduating seniors with a creative send-off.

After graduation had to be postponed in April, staff pondered how to give seniors that proper ending that all students strive to have. With largely every graduation canceled across the country it wouldn’t be surprising if Bellin College needed to do the same.

With some restrictions lifted for drive-in theaters, Bellin College Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Public Relations Matt Rentmeester along with other colleagues started wondering if a drive-in graduation could be pulled off.

“We wanted to make something special for our students, and we brainstormed a little bit, myself and a few of my colleagues, and we came up with a drive-in movie theater option, and it’s been well-received by a lot of our 134 graduates,” Rentmeester said.

With a little over a week to plan the event, preparations were made the week leading up to the May 16, 2020, ceremony at Field of Scenes Drive-in in Freedom, with a little help from vendors and staff.

Students and family descended to the drive-in with decked-out vehicles in their graduation caps and gowns ready to party like we’re living in a pandemic. The ceremony was broadcast over the radio to those in their vehicles.

BSN graduate Tori Hipke was happy to have an actual ceremony.

“Like every graduate, you’re always looking to cross the stage and receive your diploma with family and friends, but this is really unique what Bellin College has done for us,” she said.

President and CEO of the college, Dr. Connie Boerst, spoke as well as three of the four student class speakers. A virtual video ceremony with messages from the featured speaker Katherine Reinke, President and CEO of Bellin Health Chris Woleske, and Bellin College chairman Mike Van Asten, along with all four student speakers is being produced and will be distributed to graduates and their families.

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