Tears and cheers at first-ever Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick Up event

A happy graduate ready to receive her mortar board and tassel at the 2020 Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event.

A happy graduate ready to receive her mortar board and tassel at the 2020 Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event.

Mother Nature showed up in full force with a deluge of rain, but that did not stop Spring 2020 graduates from coming out to pick up their mortar boards and tassels at Southwest’s first Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event May 12. 

Typically graduates wear their full regalia at commencement. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and out of concern for the health and safety of students, their families and the community, the College moved to a virtual commencement June 13, 2020. Instead, graduates will don their cap, tassel and honor cords online.

“This has been an unprecedented year and there will never be another class quite like the Class of 2020,” President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said. “They have persevered to earn their credential and we wanted to give them an opportunity to enjoy some measure of pomp and circumstance, albeit from the safety of their vehicles.  It was an exhilarating morning seeing the graduates’ smiles and the tears and the faculty and staff who stood in the rain to cheer them on.” 

The curbside event was simultaneously held outside at the Macon Cove and Union Avenue campuses.  Students showed their Saluqi pride early that morning, positioning their cars in a line that meandered around the campuses well in advance of the start of the event. They were ready and excited and many expressed gratitude for Southwest providing an opportunity for them to celebrate and physically pick up their graduation mementos.

Faculty, staff and administration greeted each student as they arrived on campus, social distancing themselves and wearing face masks and gloves per Shelby County Health Department guidelines.  Their shouts of congratulations, “You Did It” signs, and party music were eclipsed by the students’ shouts of joy and honking horns. It was an exciting and memorable event for the students and their families, and an emotional experience for many who cried tears of happiness.

Braxton Taylor and her mom were the first ones in line at the Union Avenue Campus. “I wasn’t expecting all this!” said Taylor, who is headed to the University of Memphis this fall. Like many graduates across the nation, Taylor will miss walking across the stage to accept her diploma, but she and her mom were grateful for the curbside event.

Stay tuned to see Taylor and all our graduates at the 2020 Virtual Commencement that will be livestreamed June 13 at 10:30 a.m. on the College’s website. Each graduate’s name, credentials and honors earned will be featured on a slide, along with any photos and videos they submitted. Viewers can expect to see many traditional elements, including the singing of the National Anthem, speeches, words of wisdom by a student hero, and conferral of academic degrees and certificates.

Be sure to share the graduates’ special day by tagging @SouthwestTN and using the hashtag #SWCommencement2020 on the College’s social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Follow the countdown to graduation at https://bit.ly/3gxXVI5!


Cars filled with graduates and their families lined up early to pick up mementos at the 2020 Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event at the Macon Cove Campus.

Cars filled with graduates and their families lined up early to pick up mementos at the 2020 Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event at the Macon Cove Campus.

Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall hands out a mortar board and tassel to a 2020 graduate at the Macon Cove Campus May 12, 2020.

Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall hands out a mortar board and tassel to a 2020 graduate at the Macon Cove Campus May 12, 2020.

VP of Student Affairs Jacqueline Faulkner greeted students in style with her own branded Southwest face mask.

VP of Student Affairs Jacqueline Faulkner greeted students in style with her own branded Southwest face mask.

Grants Director Shayla Kolheim congratulates students as they drive through the curbside event at the Union Avenue Campus.

Grants Director Shayla Kolheim congratulates students as they drive through the curbside event at the Union Avenue Campus.

Chief Information Officer Michael Boyd poses with a graduate at the Union Avenue Campus.

Chief Information Officer Michael Boyd poses with a graduate at the Union Avenue Campus.

Enjoy more photos from the 2020 Southwest Curbside Cap & Tassel Pick-Up event.

Scoop - May/June 2020