Tonille and Maddison’s DIY graduation

A brother in a Hawaiian suit standing in for an Executive Dean, a mum playing MC, and a local library in place of a lofty auditorium.

When Tonille Millikin’s graduation was cancelled due to the pandemic, she knew just who to turn to.

Tonille asked her brother, mum and partner to help officiate a COVID-safe graduation ceremony for her and three friends at her workplace, the Springfield Central Library in Queensland.

Her mum announced the graduates, her brother handed out homemade scrolls, and her partner ran a slideshow of photos in front of a small crowd of family and friends.

“Luckily my family is very extroverted, so they were all on board,” says Tonille, who graduated with Bachelors of Librarianship.

“We even tried to get the mayor of Ipswich, but obviously she’s a bit busy so it was down to my family members.”

Tonille’s mum and brother officiate the ceremony at Springfield Central Library

The women hired caps and gowns from an online store to make the ceremony feel special.

“It was all very lovely. And then we went to the pub for a drink.”

She graduated along with Charles Sturt student Maddison Eleison, and two friends who studied engineering and childcare at other institutions.

Tonille says their version of a graduation ceremony was just as exciting as the real thing.

“It was very lovely and intimate. We didn’t have to wade through crowds to try and get to our friends.

“We all knew these people, we weren’t clapping for other kids. We were right there with our friends and family surrounding us and we could all just go and have a nice cold drink.”

Tonille and Maddison, who both studied online, met while working together at the library.

“It was great because we could talk about study. We formed a friendship really easily from there.”

The library was a fitting place to celebrate, she says.

“It was really special, a really amazing atmosphere. All the staff came up and popped their heads in and waved at us while we were graduating.”

Tonille encourages anyone who missed out on a graduation ceremony to consider their local library as an alternative venue.

“Libraries are always open for anyone. So as long as you’re a member, anyone would be able to do what we did.”

There’s plenty of ways you can celebrate your graduation too. Check out the 2020 Graduations page for ways to celebrate your at-home celebration.