Celebrating a Remarkable Leader and Unforgettable Graduation Ceremony Captivates Social Media

Although unintended, Travis Kelce’s beer celebration reignighted a discussion about the policing of how graduates should celebrate their achievements at college commencements.

Social media is in a frenzy after Travis Kelce celebrated receiving his diploma from Cincinnati by chugging down a beer. The video, posted to Twitter/X by NFL aggregator Dov Kleiman, has drawn tons of reactions from fans who believe that this was an official commencement ceremony by the University of Cincinnati.Chiefs Travis Kelce's viral graduation ceremony beer chug has social media  in a frenzyIn actually, Jason and Travis Kelce hosted an episode of their widely popular New Heights podcast at Fifth Third Arena, the sporting venue of Cincinnati athletics. Both Kelce brothers are alumni of the institution and the institution surprised them during the live recording of their podcast with an honorary commencement. The degrees, however, weren’t honorary. Travis Kelce earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies and Jason Kelce earned a degree in marketing. Neither brother attended their original commencement, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jason and Travis both attended the university, Jason from 2006 to 2010 and Travis from 2008 to 2012. They played football together there before pursuing careers in the NFL.

Travis completed his final credit hours to earn his degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2022. He initially wanted to walk in Cincinnati’s commencement in 2012 but he wasn’t allowed to as he misplaced a helmet that the school said he needed to return so he could graduate. According to local affiliate WCPO, the university reportedly provided him with the very same helmet he claimed he needed to graduate.

Travis Kelce graduation beer chug analyzed by body language expert claiming  he's 'in a state of eternal teenager' | Marca

The feel-good moment, however, was overtaken by real discussion about what is considered to be proper decorum for a college commencement. It’s common for universities to prohibit dancing, strolling by Greek letter organization members, and other activities that are thought to delay degree conferral or tarnish the institution’s image. The optic of seeing Travis Kelce drinking a beer on stage after getting his degree rubbed many the wrong way, especially users that didn’t initially know that this wasn’t an official Cincinnati commencement ceremony.

“Any other graduate would get in trouble for that lol” posted @winstreakzapp before he realized that it wasn’t an official commencement, which he admitted in subsequent tweets on the thread.

@elite_nebraska posted, “Love the chiefs.. Kelce as a football player is one of the best, but this is seriously so cringe. Who does he think he is? Im embarrassed for him”

Notable HBCU alumnus of Dillard University Tevon Blair quoted Dov Kleiman’s tweet and said,

“all my mind can think about is how certain HBCUs be dragging graduates out of the ceremony by law enforcement for strolling but this man is drinking a beer on stage with admin smiling. I’d just like for our HBCU admin to loosen up when Black graduates are celebrating themselves.”

Blair then responded to the news that it was an honorary commencement, saying, “the swifties in the comments saying it’s for a podcast and that makes it even more tacky. universities and higher education in general take their brand very seriously— saying yes to a podcast is odd but of course can’t be surprised.”

@p_to_the_j_ brought up an incident that occurred at the University of Florida, posting, “reminder, Black graduates at the University of Florida were assaulted by faculty when they tried to celebrate walking across the stage”

The video, posted by Joel Franco in May 2018, showed a faculty member pushing male and female students off the stage when they attempted to stroll in celebration of the monumental achievement of graduating from their institution. Strolling, as defined by North Carolina A&T, as “an informal form of stepping also known as party hopping.” Strolling, as shown in the video, can be done individually or in a group of fraternity and sorority members. Often, Greek fraternity and sorority members stroll in celebration of graduating, which is forbidden by several universities during commencement ceremonies.

Then-president of Univeristy of Florida W. Kent Fuchs apologized for how students were treated in a two-tweet thread on Twitter/X on March 6, 2018.

“During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage. I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved…The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies, and we will work to make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation.”

While Kelce’s graduation event wasn’t an official commencement ceremony, it came as a delightful surprise during their podcast. The ensuing discussion surrounding this occurrence is undeniably valuable and thought-provoking.

Randall Barnes is ClutchPoints’ Head of HBCU (Historically Black College or University) content and the founder of HBCU Pulse, a multimedia outlet with the mission to tell the authentic stories of HBCU Life via traditional, digital and social media outlets.

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