Homecoming weekend will mean a little bit more to a special group of 1,700 Knights expected to return to campus to experience the milestone of an in-person commencement. For some, this graduation ceremony has been delayed more than a year.

Spring, Summer and Fall 2020 grads representing each of UCF’s 13 colleges have registered for the ceremony, which will take place Nov. 5 at 9 a.m. at Addition Financial Arena and be livestreamed on UCF’s YouTube channel.

Darin Edwards ’97 ’10MS ’11PhD — who led the charge to create Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine — will serve as the keynote speaker for the 2020 Graduation Celebration.

In 2020, the Florida Board of Governors required all of Florida’s state universities to hold virtual commencement ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UCF conferred more than 18,000 degrees during its 2020 virtual commencement ceremonies.

During the ceremony, graduates will cross the stage during the traditional Pomp and Circumstance processional as their names are called. Each graduate is allowed up to four guests in attendance.

The deadline to participate in the Nov. 5 ceremony has passed. Participation in the ceremony is specifically for those graduates who missed in-person commencements experiences in 2020.

About Keynote Speaker Darin Edwards ’97 ’10MS ’11PhD

Edwards is the director of immunology in the infectious disease group at Moderna, where he led the research and development on their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, he directs the immunology team in support of vaccine development programs and foundational research efforts, and leads work with external academic and industry collaborators including Moderna’s collaborative research efforts with the National Institute of Health, WHO, and Harvard’s pathogenesis working group.

Prior to joining Moderna in June 2019, Edwards served eight years for Sanofi Pasteur in Orlando, where he worked to develop vaccines against infectious diseases, including RSV, influenza, dengue, and yellow fever.

Edwards is a much-published researcher and academic speaker. Through his educational background at UCF, combined with his years of experience working on the development of next-generation vaccine technology, he has had the unique opportunity to make a direct and positive impact on global health.

He earned a bachelor’s in biology, a master’s in molecular biology and microbiology and a doctorate in biomolecular sciences from UCF, where he was also a Burnett Honors Scholar.

The health and well-being of all UCF graduates and their guests are the top priority of the university. Face coverings are expected while indoors for all attendees — whether vaccinated or not, in accordance with the latest CDC guidelines.