Merdian, Miss. (WTOK) – Graduates of Meridian Community College this semester did not get the usual chance to cross the stage and be publicly cheered. But they did receive words of encouragement and were honored Monday through a virtual graduation ceremony.

“Hello, Meridian Community College 2020 graduates. Yes! You did it!” said actor Brian Baumgartner from the TV show, The Office.

“Boom!” said Cedric the Entertainer.

“Congratulations and good luck to the rest of the way. Who dat!” said New Orleans Saints head football coach, Sean Payton.

Screams and claps for MCC grads turned into Facebook likes and comments.

“We’ve decided that we were going to create something special for our students. We did it online with the help of my team. They did a fantastic job. They had to endure something that no other class of students has had to endure. It’s just a special occasion for us to be able to honor the students who have gone through here, completed their degrees and are moving on to something special,” MCC president, Dr. Thomas Huebner.

The college’s graduation ceremony was an edited virtual commencement video, including names and photos of all graduates.

“It was great to see the photos as we were going through the ceremony. In some cases, we got to see those smiling faces, holding their diplomas, wearing their caps, and tassels. They are going to be doing big things. It was really exciting for me and absolutely exceeded my expectations,” said Huebner.

The college took the time to individually recognize each student. Many faculty members expressed their pride in their students and their sorrow they couldn’t hand them their diplomas in person.

Graduates had a special shout out from celebrities like Cedric the Entertainer, Ne-Yo, and Brian Baumgartner from the TV show, The Office, to name a few.

“All of us are so very proud of you. You’re the leaders for the state of the future. Your education at the community college will take you far in your life,” said Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann.

“Thank you for staying on the course. Thank you for doing what you had to do so you can now go out and do what you want to do. Make the world a better place. One of you guys figure out how to get this COVID-19 out the way. I know you are smart enough,” said singer/songwriter Ne-Yo.

“You guys earned it so go out and do great things from here on out. Congratulations!” said Cedric the Entertainer.

“Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi, graduates, class of 2020, way to go!” said Terry Bradshaw, a football commentator and 4-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Huebner spoke to the graduates hoping to inspire them.

“Class of 2020, I want you to know that we are exceptionally proud of you. You worked very hard in some very difficult circumstances. That tells me no matter what happens in your life you’re going to be successful. You’re going to make it because you can persevere. Congratulations on this very special day. We’re so proud of you and we’re behind you. Go Eagles!” said Huebner.

The full commencement ceremony may be viewed on the college’s Facebook page as well as its YouTube channel.

The college held separate virtual ceremonies for the associate degree and career-technical programs.

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