Community organizer plans to save fall commencement for Virginia College graduates

UPDATE: Virginia College graduation

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A week after Virginia College graduates found out via email their fall ceremony would be snatched and the school was set to shut down, one man is on a mission to make it right.

Daniel Banguel says what’s happening to the students is flat out wrong and says he’s committed to making sure the roughly 300 students get their special moment.

Daniel Banguel says he wants to help Virginia College students gets the graduation ceremony they deserve.
Daniel Banguel says he wants to help Virginia College students gets the graduation ceremony they deserve. (WAFB)

“I just place myself in the position of the students because for some of them, it’ll be the highlight of their lives,” Banguel said. “I think they deserve to be recognized and I think our community needs to stand behind them despite the fact that the school is closing.”

The community organizer says he was heartbroken after students learned in order to walk, they would be forced to get in touch with another Virginia College to join their ceremony. With several locations set to close, it would mean graduates and their families would have to travel out of state. The closest option is more than five hours away in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I think this is something that has to do with things outside of the local campus’ hands where you have to deal with it from the corporate standpoint,” said Banguel.

Banguel tells WAFB he has already started the process by reaching out to area churches and businesses to see where the ceremony could be held, but he says one roadblock to getting the show on the road is convincing administrators at the school to sign on.

“You have to have permission from upper administration and I’ve contacted upper administration and we’re just trying to hear word back to see if this is something the school is willing to allow the community to do,” he added.

WAFB reached out to administrators at the school Tuesday afternoon to see if they were open to the idea and to follow up on an earlier request last week for an interview. The campus president has yet to respond to that request. Banguel says he has not heard back from administrators yet either, but says he’s not giving up.

“I’m adamant about making this happen,” he said. “These students deserve to graduate and deserve the recognition.”

Banguel believes the commencement is about more than just a ceremony, but also about the community lifting up those graduates and showing them someone cares about their accomplishments. The goal is to host the graduation in December. Anyone who wishes to reach out to Banguel to help with the effort can reach him at his office at 225-328-3218.

On Wednesday, the president of the school said they just found out graduates can attend commencement ceremonies in Mobile, Alabama.

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