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Commencement livestream draws viewers from around the world
President Steve Scott watches as Graduate Dean Pawan Kahol hoods Natalia Schneider during commencement exercises on May 12. Livestreaming made it possible for Schneider’s friends and family in Brazil to watch, too.

Commencement livestream draws viewers from around the world

Livestreaming made it possible for viewers from around the world to tune in for this year's commencement ceremonies.

At this year’s commencement ceremonies, Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott spoke about the iPhone and how greatly technology has changed our lives.

For proof of his assertion, Scott needed only to look at the very ceremony he was leading.

People from all over the globe watched live as more than 1,200 graduates received their degrees in four ceremonies on May 12 and 13. People in 38 countries watched the ceremonies, which were livestreamed on pittstate.tv, CAPS-13, and Facebook Live. More than 20,000 people viewed the Facebook Live feed, alone, while the pittstate.tv livestream received between 1,000 and 2,000 views each day.

Valquiria Vita was one of those viewers.

Vita, originally from Brazil, attended PSU as an exchange student in 2012 and then returned to PSU to receive her master’s degree in Communication in 2015. After graduating, she moved back to her home country, leaving behind friends such as Natalia Schneider, who is also from Brazil. Schneider finished school this spring and is the reason Vita watched the livestream of the commencement ceremonies.

“We still Skype and message, and I miss her so much because we used to see each other all the time,” said Vita. “So watching her graduate live was very special to me, and she knew that I would be watching, so that was nice too.”

Viewers like Vita were able to watch students walk across the stage during commencement because of another group of students who help to put the livestreaming production on.

Troy Comeau, director of broadcasting in the Department of Communication, put together a group of four broadcasting students this year to run the production. The students were chosen because of their advanced skills, and were paid with funds provided by the Registrar’s Office.

Comeau said a lot goes into producing something like commencement.

“The students will get there the day of graduation and they’ll set the cameras up, and they’ll make sure the audio is working, all that kind of stuff,” Comeau said. “For them it’s a two-day event to work.”

According to Comeau, the most important part of creating a video production of graduation is making sure every person is seen shaking hands with the president and getting their diploma.

“If you’re doing it like a football game where you’re trying to get crowd shots and you miss someone going across the stage, somebody could be watching in Brazil, waiting to see their son or daughter go across the stage and they’d miss it,” Comeau said.

The group of students who livestreamed the event benefited from learning how every live production is different and how important it is that the production aligns with the wants and needs of the producer.

Aaron Hurt, interim director of International Programs and Services, believes livestreaming the event benefits another group as well -- international students.

“I think it [livestreaming] really connects us around the world,” Hurt said. “In the past, before we had this technology, some parents and families weren’t able to participate and I think knowing that their parents and friends are watching back home is important for the students and has a big impact on them.”

Vita agreed.

“I think it’s very beneficial,” Vita said. “It made me feel close to Pittsburg, and I am sure it has made other people feel the same too.”

For more information on broadcasting in the Department of Communication visit the department's website at pittstate.edu/communication.

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