GS Class Day Virtual Ceremony

April 28, 2021, 11 a.m. ET

Class Day is a special event that celebrates GS graduates. This year, we invite graduates to a virtual ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021. GS Class Day includes remarks by Lisa Rosen-Metsch, Dean of the School of General Studies, and Marlyn Delva, GS Dean of Students. 

GS Class Day 2021



Graduates will receive invitations in mid-March to provide name pronunciations, and create personalized slides to be included in the virtual ceremony.


October 2020, February 2021, April 2021, June 2021, and October 2021 graduates who completed a graduation application by March 15, 2021 are eligible to participates in April/Spring 2021 Ceremonies.


Grad Walk

Grad Walk is an on-campus opportunity to capture celebratory photographs to commemorate your time at Columbia. Grad Walk will take place on campus from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET on Friday, April 23. This event will feature various stations with professional photographers to capture memorable moments on campus, on the graduation stage, and with Dean Rosen-Metsch, as well as opportunities for graduates to take selfies.

Students are invited to register for Grad Walk through Grad Images as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 21. Graduates are encouraged to coordinate amongst themselves to register to attend this event during the same time as their friends, if they would like to take photos together. Please note that 12 graduates can register per 15-minute block between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET. Participants will also be gifted with GS swag and provided with to-go snacks and beverages as you leave the experience.

Register for Grad Walk through Grad Images
Event Details: Friday, April 23, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET
Registration Deadline: Wednesday, April 21, 5 p.m. ET

Please note: the Commencement Office will host additional days for all graduates to participate in the Grad Walk experience, should your schedule not permit you to attend the GS-specific day on April 23.

Grad Week Gatherings & Class Day Watch Gatherings

Graduating students are invited to enter a lottery to join Dean Rosen-Metsch at various indoor and outdoor watch gatherings across campus on Class Day to view the virtual event together to celebrate this accomplishment on Wednesday, April 28 at 10:30 a.m. ET. Students are invited to register for a watch gathering as soon as possible, but no later than 12 p.m. ET on Friday, April 16.

The watch gatherings will feature gifting of GS swag, a step and repeat for photo opportunities, a professional photographer to capture this special event, and more. Given the limited capacity of these events, students who would like to attend must fill out the form below and will be chosen by lottery. We will do our best to ensure that every interested student has an opportunity to attend at least one event. Additionally, we ask that you not register for an event unless you are certain that you can and will attend, helping us ensure that these opportunities are utilized to their fullest. Students selected to attend are encouraged to proudly wear their Columbia regalia. 

Graduates will be able to enter a lottery to attend one of various program-specific, outdoor Grad Week Gatherings between April 26 and April 30 to connect safely with Dean Rosen-Metsch and fellow graduates in the days before and after the official Class Day ceremony. These gatherings will also feature gifting of GS swag, a step and repeat for photo opportunities, and a professional photographer to capture the event.

Register for the Class Day Watch Gatherings and Grad Week Gatherings
Registration Deadline: Friday, April 16 at 12 p.m. ET

Additional Information

To make these events possible, students will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times, adhere to the socially distanced seating accommodations, maintain 6’ of social distancing between all other people at all times at these events, and not congregate on campus outside of the designated gatherings. Please note that in order to invite as many graduates as possible, we are not able to accommodate guests at any of these events due to gathering limitations determined by the state of New York and the University.

Please note that for access to campus for all three of these opportunities, all Columbia students must be gateway tested for COVID-19, complete the daily attestation, and be able to produce a CU Green Pass. Learn more:

If you have any questions about graduation, these in person events, or regarding campus access please email

Following the Class Day ceremony, members of the GS community will be hosting various Zoom receptions to give students and their guests the opportunity to drop in and share a moment of celebration with GS offices, alumni, and more. 

Additional information forthcoming. 

Ordering a Cap and Gown

The deadline to request complimentary regalia that will arrive before GS Class Day has passed. Eligible 2021 graduates who would still like to request complimentary regalia can do so via the senior survey, which will be sent out in the coming weeks. Note: Regalia requested via the senior survey will not arrive in time for GS Class Day. Students who would like regalia to arrive before Class Day are encouraged to purchase regalia from the bookstore by Friday, April 9. 

If you have questions, please contact


An article in the New York Times provides information about the history of academic regalia, including Columbia's role in the development of an American standard.

Keynote Speaker | Elegance Bratton ’14

This year’s Class Day Speaker is Elegance Bratton, an award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and author who has been featured in the New York TimesThe Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and Variety, and whose films have played in nearly 150 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Outfest, and the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival. Elegance was selected as one of Indiewire’s 25 LGBT Faces to Watch in 2019, and is the winner of the 2021 Truer Than Fiction Award. 

At the age of 16, Elegance was kicked out of his childhood home because of his sexuality. A decade later, at age 25, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and began making films as a combat filmmaker—an experience that would lead to a lifelong passion for filmmaking.

At GS, Elegance wrote and directed Pier Kids, an independent documentary funded through Kickstarter that follows three queer and trans homeless youth on NYC’s iconic Christopher Street Pier to show the intricate ways queer people of color utilize public space to build chosen family. He started this project in the summer term of 2011 and shot 400 hours of footage over the course of his Columbia career. His directorial debut, the film has played at 50 film festivals worldwide, and has earned Elegance numerous awards and honors including the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards, the Special Programming Award for Emerging Talent at Outfest 2019, and an honorable mention in the documentary category at the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival. During Elegance’s time at GS, he was also awarded a 2012 Humanity in Action fellowship to study French social justice movements.

Elegance had attempted college prior to enrolling at GS, and describes being determined with “every fiber in his being” to earn his degree from Columbia. In 2014, he graduated from Columbia GS as a member of the Dean’s List with a degree in African-American Studies, the study of which was instrumental in better understanding the intersecting socio-political circumstances that resulted in him being black, gay, and homeless. And through the time he spent at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS), Elegance gained an appreciation for the possibility that his life experience might offer something to the world around him. He found that by studying his own identity, he became captivated and fascinated by his courses, which opened up the world of scholarship through the lens of his own experience. “In this way, I empowered myself with my education,” he said.

In 2019, Elegance went on to earn an MFA in directing and writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. During his time at Tisch, he served as the Filmmaker in Residence at Reel Works, a nonprofit filmmaking program that provides free training to more than 500 at-risk youth citywide. Elegance also wrote and directed his debut narrative short Walk for Me, which tells the story of Hannah, a young trans girl whose secret life is discovered by her mother at a gay ball. The film played at more than 100 festivals worldwide, garnering numerous awards along the way including winning Best Student Film at the 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival, the Film Award for Best LGBTQ Film at the 2017 Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best LGBT Short at the 2017 Columbus Film Festival, and Best Narrative Short Film at the 2017 Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival.

Elegance has published books on photography and poetry, with his photo book Bound By Night being nominated for an award at the prestigious Fotobook Festival in Kassel, Germany. He is the creator and executive producer of the GLAAD-nominated and Cannes MIPCOM-winning 2018 Viceland television series My House, a ten-part documentary that follows ballroom culture in New York City. His most recent short film, Buck, premiered domestically as an official selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and abroad at the 2020 London Film Festival (BFI), and is being developed into a television series. Elegance’s current project, The Inspection, an upcoming feature film that he has written and will direct about a homeless black gay man who joins the Marines to change his life, yet must then conceal his attraction to his Drill Instructor to survive boot camp during the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was selected for support by Tribeca All Access and Film Independent Fast Track in 2019, and is being produced by Gamechanger Films. 

Diplomas for February and October grads will be mailed to the address on file in SSOL up to two months after the conferral date. Graduates are encouraged to confirm and, if needed, update their address within SSOL.

Diplomas for May graduates are mailed within three weeks after degree conferral to the Diploma Address listed in SSOL. Graduates are encouraged to confirm and, if needed, update their address within SSOL.

Graduates who resolve financial or library holds preventing the release of their diplomas must proactively notify the Office of the University Registrar that their last hold has been removed. Those who do not notify the Registrar will not receive their diploma. 

Portrait and Quote

Appointments for senior portraits from LifeTouch Photography will be held from March 22 - 26 and March 29 - April 2 in Lerner Hall. Schedule an appointment (or call 1-800-687-9327,) by entering school code 87186.

Portraits will be taken in your own business attire and academic attire will be provided. A sitting fee of $5 is due at the time of your sitting (cash, check, debit/credit accepted). Please be prepared to provide the photographer with your major at the time of your sitting.

If you are not near campus to take a portrait, you can submit an at-home portrait to be featured in the yearbook.

Student Organizations

Fill out this short survey to ensure your student organization will be featured in the Columbia 2021 Yearbook.

Purchase a Yearbook



Students are welcome to share the ceremony link with as many guests as possible so that family, friends, and loved ones can celebrate with you.