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Coronavirus New York City: Companies and celebrities are hosting virtual graduations to help students and families celebrate from a distance


NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — It’s graduation season and with the restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies and celebrities are stepping in to help graduating seniors and their families celebrate their accomplishments virtually.

Arlys Tineo, a 21-year-old senior at Medgar Evers College will get to boast that she had former President Barack Obama as her commencement speaker, Kevin Hart as emcee, and a star-studded virtual graduation celebration.

“We’re going to sit in my living room and I’m going to have my parents watching it as well on their TV,” Tineo said. “For their first born child to go to college, it’s important because they didn’t get the chance to go to college.”

On Saturday afternoon, JPMorgan Chase will host a two-hour commencement ceremony on the company’s social media platforms for students graduating from historically black colleges and universities.

“For us it was critically important to be there for these students at this time to recognize these achievements,” JPMorgan Chase’s Sekou Kaalund said.

There are 103 historically black colleges and universities in the country and 80 of them have signed on for the event.

“As I think about how important historically black colleges and universities are to JPMorgan Chase, 35% of our black interns come from historically black colleges and universities,” Kaalund said.

JPMorgan Chase isn’t the only one, Facebook and Instagram held a virtual high school graduation with Oprah as the keynote speaker, but there are still some schools that are sticking to tradition.

“On the live part you saw students with their caps and gowns with their families around them. It was beautiful,” Sarah Lawrence College’s Kanwal Singh said.

Friday morning, the ceremony looked and sounded the same for graduates at Sarah Lawrence College, even though it was all virtual.

“People move on to other parts of their lives after their college career so we felt that it was important to keep to some sort of schedule to mark the time now,” Singh said.

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