The video was released on social media the week of what would have been the commencement ceremony had it not been postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Hailie Warren ’11, the co-director and writer, and Zbyněk Surovec ’20, the co-director, videographer and editor, wanted to show USD seniors that they can always find support from their alma mater.

“The best part about the work we do is the creative pursuit for taking a feeling or a message and finding a way to bring it to life in an unexpected and creative way,” Warren said. “What the 2020 seniors went through was a very emotional and intense circumstance. We wanted to not only honor that, but also find a way to show them USD is here for them – always – even amid chaos.”

"Like many universities across the nation, USD had a unique challenge and opportunity to recognize its graduating seniors in a meaningful way during the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Michelle Cwach ’09, assistant vice president of marketing communications and university relations. “While we postponed graduation ceremonies until October 24 when we could all come together again to celebrate, we wanted to ensure our seniors received a heartfelt tribute for the hard work they had put in over the past four years as we officially welcomed them into our alumni family."

Warren and Surovec are both graduates of the USD Department of Media & Journalism.

"I'm incredibly proud of the vision and creativity of our marketing team, and it's a testament to USD's strong media and journalism department, which produces high-achieving and Emmy-nominated graduates like Hailie and Zbyněk," Cwach said.

The 2020 Upper Midwestern Regional Emmy Awards ceremony takes place Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. More information can be found at

Watch the Tribute to the USD 2020 Seniors Video on YouTube

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