The coronavirus pandemic has cancelled a lot — including the most influential milestone for Delaware State University’s (DSU) largest graduating class in 129 years — but the celebration is still happening, with a different approach.

“We knew better than to try to copy the traditional ceremony at Alumni Field,” said Dr. Francine Edwards, who is co-chairing the planning committee. “So we set out to create a memorable and surprising experience that the Class of 2020 will treasure forever as their own unique celebration.”

The University leaned on many Alumni in the planning. Nicole Dye-Anderson, class of 2003 and an Executive with Barclays Bank, was particularly helpful in securing a number of the featured guests, “DelState gave so much to me. Whatever I can do to show my appreciation will be done. I am proud to work for a company that knows the value of HBCUs and gives me the freedom to help showcase them around the world.”

A press release from the university shares, “In addition to celebrating nearly 700 graduates of the largest class ever, the university also graduates its first cohort of Dreamers — children of undocumented workers under the DACA program. Recipients of full scholarships awarded by TheDream.US, more Dreamers, choose to attend Delaware State University than any other University in the country. During the ceremony, Mr. Donald Graham, founder of TheDream.US and former publisher of the Washington Post, will have an honorary degree conferred in recognition of his humanitarian efforts.”

DSU was among the first institutions in the country to actually welcome Dreamers to its campus. To continue to honor and celebrate their achievements, DSU invited 25 cultural influencers from around the nation – including actors, musicians and even a former Vice President of the U.S. – to appear in its May 16 virtual Commencement celebration.

Outgoing students can expect appearances and words of encouragement from the likes of VP Joe Biden, Tina Knowles Lawson, Vanessa Williams, Billy Porter, Erykah Badu, Wayne Brady and many others.

Check out what Erykah Badu had to say to the Class of 2020:

Graduating Senior and Student Government President Usman Tijani, whose mother has been diagnosed with COVID-19, agreed, “In an instant, I went from graduating Senior trying to complete everything to get to the finish line, to head of household trying to take care of my son, little brother, and mother. As a Hornet for life, I’m looking forward to this year’s commencement and, more importantly, what happens next.”

We look forward to joining in the graduation festivities. Congratulations to the Delaware State University Class of 2020.