Prairie View A&M University Graduate Holds Virtual Party With Family Around the World

The university wanted to create a safe way to honor the achievements of its 910 graduates during COVID-19.

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In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Prairie View A&M University held a virtual graduation ceremony Saturday for the Class of Spring 2020.

Twenty-year-old Bryanna Barnett’s family squeezed onto the screen of her laptop to congratulate her on her graduation.

“People from all over the world were, you know, helping my granddad in a remote area of Kenya try to set up Zoom and see if he can come. I have family and friends from Australia and Canada, and we were able to invite them,” Barnett said.

Bryanna’s dad, O’Neal Barnett, helped design a ‘studio’ -- transforming the family's Plano living room with balloons and decorations.

“When my dad said we were going to build a studio, I didn’t even know what that meant," Bryanna said. "He was like, ‘I got this deal on eBay.'”

The love he has for his only child is displayed on the fridge, with saved pictures and schoolwork, and in pictures of the pair over the years.

The two came up with an idea to host a virtual graduation party to celebrate with loved ones thousands of miles away.

“This is a really big day for Bryanna. This is what it’s all about. You can see the pride in her face. It’s very well deserved,” O'Neal said.

Bryanna got her finance degree in three years and is headed to Columbia University to get her MBA.

While she said she’s a little disappointed she didn’t get to walk across the stage to get her diploma, she’s happy it worked out in the end.

“I think God has a purpose for everything, so I’m trying to walk in faith and understand that there’s something for everything," she said. "It’s a blessing in itself that we’re able to invite so many people, and they’re able to take part now.".

Prairie View A&M University issued the following statement.

“If the current restrictions banning large gatherings are lifted, the Spring 2020 Graduates would be able to participate in the summer graduation, which is tentatively scheduled for August 2020.”

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