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April 27, 2020, Denver, Colo.—One of the many fallouts of COVID19 has been the cancellation of graduation ceremonies, a rite of passage in education. While it may not be physically possible to celebrate together, Indigenous communities are proud of their graduates and their hard work. To celebrate, several national organizations serving Alaska Native and American Indian students are hosting Virtual Indigenous Commencement on Facebook this Friday, May 1 at noon MDT to allow scholars to celebrate their achievement with family and friends. Virtual Indigenous Commencement (VIC) is a digital platform created to celebrate Indigenous students around the world who graduate from high school, college, vocational programs, graduate programs, and more.

Graduates, families, and friends can share comments, statements, photos, or videos of graduates in the Virtual Indigenous Commencement public group on Facebook. College and education leaders will be able to share their video messages on VIC throughout the summer of 2020. Supporters can share their congratulations and gratitude with Native graduates of the Class of 2020 across social media by using the hashtags #2020NativeGrad and #dearNativeGraduates.

Melvin E. Monette-Barajas (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), President and CEO of Indigenous Education, Inc., said, “In Indian Country, we have always celebrated transitions in life and the partners in this effort have found a way to do so while continuing to honor social and physical distancing efforts. We know that grandparents, aunties and uncles, tribal communities and all families want to share a connection with the graduates – this is our effort to provide a venue for celebrations.”

About Virtual Indigenous Commencement (VIC)—VIC is coordinated by: Indigenous Education, Inc. (IEI) – Home of the Cobell Scholarship, and in collaborative spirit with the American Indian College Fund, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, American Indian Graduate Center, College Horizons, Harvard University Native American Program, Arizona State University, Yale University, Indian University of North America, National Education Association, National Indian Education Association, Urban Native Era, Dream Warriors, and Indigenous Educators United.

Contact: Melvin Monette-Barajas, melvin.monette@cobellscholar.org