Norfolk State University students were “Happy” when singer and producer Pharrell Williams was the surprise commencement speaker at their virtual graduation. Like many colleges and secondary schools across the country, the historically black university in southeastern Virginia moved to virtual classrooms because of the coronavirus pandemic. The school held an online graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 on Saturday.

“Even if this is not the norm, you guys and girls still deserve all the praise,” Williams said. “You stuck it through, you made it and today’s your day.” Patsy Douglas, a graduating mass communications major, said she felt down on her graduation day because she couldn’t have a physical ceremony. But Williams‘ message to students lifted her spirits. “His message inspired me to keep going and striving for the highest regardless of the circumstances,” Douglas told CNN via text message. “His words and affirmation to the class of 2020 will be forever carried in all of our hearts.”


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