Last year because of the COVID pandemic the University of Texas at El Paso announced that they would not be holding in person commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors. We were months away from a possible vaccine and at that time we were so busy dealing with the new normal that a vaccine seemed like an impossible dream. Students weren't happy about not being able to walk across the stage at the Don to get their diplomas but UTEP did what they had to do and canceled graduation ceremonies.

Fast forward to earlier this year when UTEP officials announced that they would be holding commencement ceremonies for the graduates of 2020 and 2021 but would only be allowing 2 guests per graduate. There was a lot of complaining about that number because so many graduates are from El Paso and you know we love us a huge crowd when someone in our family graduates. UTEP did say that number might change depending on what the COVID situation looked like. Well apparently they are pretty happy about the way things look right now because the number per graduates has really skyrocketed.

Silhouettes of Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation
Robert Churchill

UTEP officials announced this week that they would be allowing up to 8 people per graduate at the May 14 and 15 commencement ceremonies at the Sun Bowl. They said they came up with that number after "carefully reviewing the level of COVID-19 in the community and the expected number of graduates participating in The University of Texas at El Paso’s in-person Commencement ceremonies".

Officials said, and they are right, that we are in a much different place regarding the COVID pandemic in El Paso than we were last year at this time so it was time to let graduates who worked so hard for their degrees to celebrate their accomplishment with their family and friends.

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COVID protocols will of course be in place. There will e social distancing between family groups and you will have to wear a face mask. The good news is that the event is free, but Sun Bowl seating capacity will not exceed 50%, even if every graduate brings eight guests. If you can't make it or aren't willing to go, the commencement ceremonies will also be livestreamed at

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