Renee Tregoning is the first of 100,000 University of Southern Queensland (USQ) students to officially graduate online. Not only was Renee the first USQ graduate for 2020, but she was also the first in more than half a century admitted to her degree via Zoom, following the cancellation of large gatherings due to Coronavirus.

It was an inaugural moment for USQ’s Chancellor John Dornbusch too who ‘Zoom-bombed’ Renee’s online celebrations to officiate the ceremony, uttering the historic words, “With the authority of the Governing Council of the University of Southern Queensland as Chancellor, I hereby admit you, Renee, in absentia, to your Bachelor of Commerce degree.”

Mr Dornbusch said he was honoured to take part. “As the COVID-19 crisis continues to cast shadows across much of the world, it was my privilege to be a part of something so joyous,” he said. “My heartiest congratulations to you Renee, and to all of our graduands who will go down in history as a #usqisograd.”

Renee worked full time to complete her Bachelor of Commerce degree over seven years. The mother of three is the first in her family to ever study at university. “It’s a momentous occasion for me and for my three sons,” Renee said. “Even though I wasn’t on a stage in front of an audience, I still felt like I was in the spotlight.”

As the USQ class of 2020 received their online testamurs throughout the day, USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie offered her personal congratulations. “We’re so disappointed that you can’t join us in person, but we hope that you can celebrate with your family and friends when you can,” she said. “Years of dedication and hard work have led you to this moment and we are so proud of everything that you have achieved.”

This year’s graduating cohort includes more than 2500 students spanning almost 50 countries, with many sharing their stories on social media under the hashtag #usqisograd.

Readers also enjoyed our story on USQ Online Graduation