Students receiving their bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. from the College of Social Work are able to tune in to the Evening of Recognition on May 3 at 6:30 p.m via Facebook Live. Credit: Courtesy of College of Social Work

For Ohio State students with a loved one too far away to attend graduation, the College of Social Work has a solution.

Relatives of students receiving their bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. from the College of Social Work will be able to tune in to the Evening of Recognition at 6:30 p.m. on May 3. The ceremony, which serves as the college’s commencement event, can be viewed via Facebook Live.

Attendees, both in person and via the live feed, will also be able to tweet shout-outs that will appear on a 12-by-16-foot screen above the stage in the Mershon Auditorium on the Ohio State campus.

Evening of Recognition is a time for each graduating student to “be recognized, receive honors and walk the stage,” according to the College of Social Work’s website. Diplomas are not given out at the event.

“We noticed, like you do in a lot of events anymore, that you look out in the crowd, everybody’s on their device. Well, while they were attending to their device they weren’t attending to the graduation,” Tom Gregoire, the dean of the College of Social Work, said. “Most commencements are sort of a one-way event. We say our things and do out things that the crowd just watches. So we were curious about what would a commencement look like if it was participatory.”

The streaming of the evening, which began roughly five years ago, is an easy way for long-distance family and friends to celebrate a student’s accomplishments without having to travel. In past years, more than 100 viewers have tuned in online.

Dy’Sha Cole, who graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science from the College of Social Work and will receive her master’s from the college this May, agreed that the live stream is helpful for graduates that come to Ohio State from distant parts of the world.

“I think that the streaming is is a good way for everyone else around the world to see their loved ones graduate. Up until recently I was in a long distance relationship, so, my boyfriend, he used live-stream to watch it,” Cole said.

Gergoire said the college, which prides itself in being technology-forward, wanted to host an interactive celebration different from most.

“We wanted a graduation where all your attention was on the event and you felt as a member of the audience like you got to participate and you weren’t waiting for the event to end so you could congratulate and engage with your loved ones,” he said. “You see some really meaningful things, you see some funny things, I think we had a run of about 10 or 15 dogs congratulating their family.”

In years past, guests from nearly 25 states have watched the live stream, and the number of participants continue to grow.