Early yesterday afternoon, Eliza Donovan graduated from Lehigh University.
It was not the ceremony she envisioned. The 2016 Staples High School alum left campus in mid-March. She and her classmates finished their college careers at home, clouded by COVID and a changed world.
Commencement took place virtually. There was a cappella music, a slideshow, and a symbolic conferring of degrees.
Almost as soon as it was over, Eliza really graduated.
She’s lucky to have a fun-loving, creative family, with 5 siblings and ton of nearby cousins. She’s lucky they all love Lehigh (her father Dan and uncles Dave and Doug went there too). She’s lucky they wanted to celebrate in style.
So at 3 p.m., Eliza’s extended family assembled in their back yard. There was a program on every seat.
“Pomp and Circumstance” played. Eliza marched in. Her brother Johnny welcomed everyone, and delivered a commencement speech. He wished her well as she went off into the world — though he reminded her to wear a face mask, and stay within her safe social bubble.
Eliza’s father gave a speech too, then presented the diplomas — er, diploma. (It was his old one, with her name taped over his.)
She was cited as valedictorian. Hey, she had the highest GPA of any graduate at that ceremony.
Eliza’s mother Nicole gave the benediction.
It was the way a graduation should be: short and sweet. And very personal.
There were no honorary degrees conferred on wealthy contributions. No one had to yell “Sit down – I can’t see!” No one passed out, sitting for hours in a hot stadium.
And when it was over, Eliza — a championship diver — started a new tradition. She dove into the pool.
Then — as the “graduation program” noted — the proud graduate’s family invited everyone to a celebratory reception.
Her whole family was there.
What a great story!! Congrats!!
What a wonderful story!! Congratulations!!
Love this! No doubt the speeches at Eliza’s commencement were more personal and heartfelt than those delivered to a campus audience. Congratulations, Eliza!
So uplifting! This could be the way of the future!
I remember when Dan Donovan was my 8th grade soccer coach and he brought his girlfriend Nicole to our practice to impress her. What was he thinking? I guess it worked out. Great humans – congrats!
You do make a fair point, Zack. And now all of our kids are older than you were then! Two keepers like you and one who played both on the field and in the nets.
Amazing story! Incredible family! We should all be so creative!!
Bravissimi! What a creative idea! We love the Donovan family! Congratulazioni! 🙂
Congratulations, Eliza, from the west coast Donovans! Your grades put my Lehigh GPA to shame. Forty years ago this month Henry Kissinger spoke at my commencement. I can’t remember a word he said. You may have missed out on the big ceremony, but I think you’ll remember your special day for a long time.
I love this family!
This is so amazing and I’m not only extremely proud of my beautiful niece, Eliza, but I’m so proud of my sister and her entire family for creating such a special celebration in a way that is sure to be remembered! I love MY family; The Donovan’s!!!!! YOU GUYS ROCK! Whooo Hoooo! Congratulations, Eliza! <3
I know my Dad Lee Chandler, class of 1932 and Fairfield County Lehigh recruiter would be proud ! Debbie Chandler Thomas