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Coronavirus Latest: Temple University Honors 2020 Graduating Class With Virtual Experience

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - May is graduation season, and Thursday should have been the day the class of 2020 graduated from Temple University. Instead, its in-person commencement has been postponed due to COVID-19.

The university could not let this day pass without recognizing its talented students in some way.

After all, this is a record-breaking class - it's the largest ever with 10,300 graduates. They can't be at the Liacouras Center today so these graduates become "Temple made" in a digital way.

North Broad Street on Temple University's campus will look different today. No pomp and circumstance as in years past, no caps and gowns.

Instead, just essential business quietly moving about amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's been really, really difficult. This typically would be one of our busiest weeks on campus with all sorts of celebrations and ceremonies going on," Director of University events Angela Hoban said.

All events to honor the achievements of students like Mikayla Riddick. She along with more than 10,000 of her peers were set to graduate Thursday at the Liacouras Center.

Now with the in-person commencement ceremony postponed, she's wondering if she'll ever experience that iconic moment.

"It's definitely disappointing," Riddick said. "I had family coming from New Jersey so I would have been surrounded by a lot of love and family."

"That's a really special moment, and that will take place as soon as we're able to do so but we didn't want the day to go by without acknowledging this great achievement that the class of 2020 has reached," said Dr. Betsy Tutelman, senior vice provost for strategic communications.

And that's where Temple's new virtual experience comes in. It's a tribute to the class of 2020 that launched online overnight.

"We believe that this experience will help them celebrate the day with their families and friends virtually until they can be on campus again," Tutelman said.

A team of 100 people pulled the new website together in just weeks. It's a virtual walk down memory lane, with photos and videos from each college and school.

Plus, messages from faculty and staff, students, families and friends.

And at the end of the day, that's all Mikayla's father really wants to do, show his pride.

"We're extremely proud, she worked really hard," Mike Riddick said.

Mikayla is graduating Magna cum laude, and as a member of the ROTC program, she will soon be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

"I appreciate Temple's effort," Mikayla said.

"This is just a challenge that we'll have to get around. Just is a different way of celebrating," her father said.

Happening at 11 a.m. Thursday, another special video will go live online. It involves speeches from the president, the provost, the president of the alumni association, and the student commencement speaker.

It's the feel of a commencement ceremony until that traditional, in-person commencement can happen safely in the future.

To share your messages for Temple's 2020 class, click here.

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