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NASCAR Star Carl Edwards Helps MU Online Students Celebrate Commencement Via Internet

MU creates first virtual graduation ceremony for students completing online degrees

May 16, 2008

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, 573-823-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo.  - Welcoming remarks, speeches and congratulatory messages from family and friends are all components of a traditional commencement ceremony. This year, graduates who earned their degrees online through the University of Missouri will enjoy all of this including Pomp and Circumstance, but no cap or gown is required!  They even get a special bonus - a message from NASCAR sensation and Columbia native Carl Edwards.

"Studying from a distance isn’t any easier than learning in a classroom," Edwards said in his speech. "Sometimes, it's even more challenging. I can vouch for that because I've been there myself, having taken an online class from MU, and just like you, I plan to go back to school and complete my degree online from Mizzou."

In his speech to the graduates, Edwards said that MU has always been an important part of his life because he is the son of a Mizzou graduate. He praised the graduates on making education a priority and being pioneers in online and distance learning.

MU Extension has created the university’s first online commencement ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of Mizzou students who completed their degrees through MU Direct: Continuing and Distance Education and The Center for Distance and Independent Study. The program has nearly 200 graduates this semester receiving undergraduate, master’s and educational specialist degrees. More than 40 online degree programs are offered.

"There are hundreds of you all over the country who completed your MU degrees online this semester," Edwards said. "The faculty and staff at the university obviously couldn't bring all of you together for a regular ceremony, so they are doing the next best thing, which is bringing graduation to you. I hope you consider your graduation as your trip to victory lane!"

The Web site hosting the online commencement ceremony also features videotaped greetings from MU Provost Brian Foster and Mizzou Alumni Association President Titus Blackmon. The page includes a list of graduates and a guest book where family and friends can leave congratulatory messages. More than 200 messages have been left on the site.

The online commencement ceremony is located at