ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — University of Central Florida students were expecting a virtual graduation ceremony and thought crossing a stage would be impossible because of the coronavirus.

What You Need To Know

  • UCF is offering the Grad Walk to graduating students who want a more traditional sendoff

  • The event incorporates a traditional graduation with social distancing, mask wearing, and extra sanitizing

  • About 600 students have signed up for UCF's first Grad Walk

But a brand new commencement style is lighting up the Pegasus Ballroom and giving graduates a more personalized sendoff.

It's called the Grad Walk.

It features a commencement students are used to seeing, with social distancing, mask wearing, and sanitizing mixed in. Students we spoke to said it felt really special.

Ann Alabe’s eyes lit up when she walked into the Pegasus Ballroom. Each step she took toward the stage was filled with pride.

"I'm feeling really proud of myself and so thankful for my family to be here and being able to experience it," Alabe said.

Her family wore big smiles beneath their masks, snapping picture after picture of the big moment.

“It was so good," she said. "I felt really supported so I’m just really happy.”

Similar strides came from other students who went before her.

It’s an opportunity they didn’t know they’d have, and they didn’t take it for granted.

“First, it’s just like, ‘How are they going to do it?'” Alabe said. "But then, now after doing it, the grad walk, it’s just like, oh that’s actually really smart so you can still be socially distanced.”

“It was a coordinated effort from a lot of people who put in a lot of hours, to ensure that our students would have the kind of experience they would remember," said Theodorea Berry, Vice Provost for Student Learning and Academic Success.

Berry told us it was well worth it to make sure the students, who work so hard to earn their degrees, get to finish with fanfare.

The UCF Communications team said about 600 students signed up for this first ever Grad Walk week.

This was just open to students graduating this fall, but there will be another grad walk scheduled for students who graduated this past spring or summer.​