‘Once a Coug, always a Coug’: WSU grads celebrate with drive-thru graduation

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Cougs Class of 2021 put their college careers in the rear view mirror Saturday, celebrating with a drive-thru graduation. Washington State University capped off another school year, but one that was entirely done in a pandemic. This year was the first time WSU did a drive-thru graduation. Last year, it only held a virtual commencement.

There was a line of cars waiting to get going Saturday morning near Beasley Coliseum.

“It feels a little surreal right now,” said Taylor Roderick, a WSU graduate.

“I want to smile and cry at the same time,” added Breeanna Tromp, another graduate.

WSU seniors were waiting for another milestone to add to a year they’ll remember for a lifetime – spending the last year of their college career in a pandemic.

“It was the longest but shortest four years. It was weird,” said graduate Sarah Wehrer.

PHOTOS: Cougs celebrate drive-thru graduation in Pullman

Graduates capped it off driving alongside other Cougs, taking a drive through a place they became familiar with in the last four years. Their professors, coaches and other staff were along the sidewalks across campus, waving WSU flags and signs of encouragement.

Because of the pandemic, this class of graduates didn’t get the normal traditions of a senior.

“It’s definitely different to not be able to walk across the stage and grab your diploma like that,” Roderick said. “But, it’s a historic time and being able to still experience graduation in a different way and move through life during this time is really important.”

The university said about 400 Cougs went through the drive-thru event, moving on from a tough year of learning mostly online in Pullman. The university held few in-person classes and fewer on-campus activities.

“This last year was interesting. It was kind of tough to be honest, because of the world changing so much. Kind of changed my university experience a bit,” said Christian Vasileff, a graduate.

The Cougs ended up making the most of their last year and the most of Saturday. Graduates 4 News Now spoke with say they were glad they had some sort of in-person graduation, even if it was drive-thru.

“Once a Coug, always a Coug,” said Tromp. “I would say no matter how hard it gets, just rely on your fellow Cougs and know that WSU will always get your back.”

In addition to Saturday’s drive-thru celebration, WSU will also be holding a virtual commencement next Saturday, May 8.

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