More than 3,000 students were celebrated on the very first Virtual Commencement Ceremony by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Saturday morning, which was live streamed on Facebook, YouTube and UTRGV’s official website.

At 10 a.m. sharp, the commencement celebration started with ceremonial music and video footage of both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the opening remarks and introduced the student who sang the national anthem.

Wearing his graduation gown and with flags of the several colleges in the background, Bailey said UTRGV has some of the most talented students in the country.

“We see their talent, we see their resilience, we see their ability as they have adjusted this spring to the most disruptive semester in the history of American higher education,” Bailey said.

As loved ones posted comments on Facebook Live congratulating the graduates, Bailey continued on how he has been in higher education for 41 years and has never experienced anything like the pandemic.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of you for the way you’ve adjusted, for the way you have met this challenge, and of the way you’ve conquered,” he said.

“What you have learned during the last few weeks, is just as important as what you learned during your entire education. You learned resilience, you learned to adjust on the fly, you learned to adapt, you learned to deal with hardship, all of those lessons will carry you a long way in life.”

After Bailey’s remarks, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and P-16 Integration Patricia A. McHatton said the university is very proud of the graduates. She added while they may not be able to gather in person for commencement yet, it does not diminish the great accomplishments.

“We are here today to celebrate the hard work and sacrifices you’ve gone through, because we believe the work that you’ve done should be celebrated no matter the current circumstances,” she said.

John Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine and executive VP for Health Affairs, said he is very proud, especially of the first-generation graduates.

“For many of you, you were the first one in your families to seek a college education,” he said. “The first teacher, the first scientist, the first physician. You worked very hard and have reached this day as a graduate of UTRGV.”

After the remarks, photos of the graduates along with their favorite quote and the degree they received were shown on the screen. The photos were followed by videos from previous in-person commencement ceremonies where hundreds of students celebrated the accomplishment wearing their black gown and hugging their families.

“Your moment has arrived, you worked hard, you persisted and you are graduating and yes, it’s time to celebrate. We are so proud of you. You have shown remarkable resilience in facing an unprecedented challenge, a pandemic that occurs once in a lifetime,” Parwinder Grewal, executive vice president for Research Graduate Studies and New Program Development, said.

“You kept your eyes on the ball, you did not waver, you did not get sidetracked and you succeeded.”