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I Can’t Stop Laughing At These Videos Of The Botched Names At TJU’s Graduation

Your graduation day is supposed to be the most perfect day ever. You walk across the stage, grab your diploma, and celebrate the day away with your loved ones. But the most perfect day took a comical turn for these students at Thomas Jefferson University. On May 10, Thomas Jefferson University held a commencement for the graduates of its College of Nursing, in which this ceremony had so many name mispronunciations, you’d almost think it was a joke. 

In viral videos of the event, the graduation announcer is seen mispronouncing the names of multiple graduates, with the pronunciation being completely different from their actual names. More “common” names in the U.S. — I’m talking Sarah, Jessica, and Allison — were completely butchered, causing confusion from the graduates and audience members, since these are names that aren’t usually pronounced wrong.

One name, Sarah Virgina Brennan, was pronounced “S-eye-air Oo-voo-n Jean-june Breenun,” which is just way off. Jessica, was pronounced as “Jay-see-coo,” and Allison was pronounced as “Allisoon-ah.” Yikes.

And if you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. One graduate named Thomas — which is in the name of the university — was pronounced “Tamoomay,” but was quickly corrected by Thomas himself with an incredulous retort of, “Thomas!” I know he was shook when he heard that pronunciation. 

@jessehamilton

Graduation goof goes viral… A speaker at Thomas Jefferson University in Philly mispronounced nursing graduates’ names during commencement. The reason?? The university says it happened because of the way phonetic spellings were presented on the speaker’s cards. The university has apologized. #blooper #philly #pa #tju #viral#news4ny #commencement #graduation #oops #fyp

♬ original sound – Jesse Hamilton

The commentary from the audience members did not disappoint. A TikToker named Joanie (@joanlogan), who attended the ceremony for her sister, captured the moment and posted it on TikTok. Many people in the audience laughed at the mispronounced graduate names. One person even said, “She must be speaking another language.” 

So many commenters on these viral videos all had the same question: What the heck was on these cards to make the announcer mess up so badly? 

Some guessed the cards didn’t have the standard name spellings on them, but rather just the phonetic spellings. Typically for graduation, you have a card that has your name the way it is typically spelled, as well as the phonetic spelling, which is supposed to help announcers pronounce each name correctly. Phonetic spelling can be kind of confusing if you aren’t familiar with it, which may be the case for this graduation announcer. 

However, one TJU student has proven that theory wrong. In a recent video, TikToker Sarah Brennan (@sarahbrennan605), a graduate whose name was severely mispronounced, shared the card she was given at graduation. It showed her name at the top in bold with the phonetic spelling underneath, captioning the TikTok, “giving the people what they want.” This confirms the correct spelling of her name was indeed on the card, and the announcer was either confused or just doing their own thing. 

The internet did not disappoint with its reaction to Thomas Jefferson University’s graduation. Many people pointed out the similarities between the graduation and a skit from the show “Key & Peele” called Substitute Teacher, which is about a sub mispronouncing common names like Jaqueline and Blake. The ceremony also sparked commentary from Jimmy Fallon during The Tonight Show, during which he said, “ … honestly, good for [the announcer]. She did the impossible. She made a graduation entertaining.” 

And of course, TikTok creators took to the platform to post their own comedic versions of the incident.

Since the ceremony, Thomas Jefferson University took to social media and issued an apology to the graduates and explained the mishap. The university’s statement reads, “Each graduate deserves to have their name honored correctly on this pivotal day.” The cause of the mishap was said to be “the way phonetic spellings were presented on the speaker’s cards, which was noted when the presenter apologized during the ceremony.” 

TBH, this situation was so bizarre. Never in a million years would I think the name Sarah would be pronounced wrong — let alone at a college graduation.

Tyra Alexander is a National Writer for Her Campus, primarily writing about life, experiences, and academics. She is also Editor In Chief at her campus chapter at Loyola University Maryland. Beyond Her Campus, Tyra is a Sophomore English Major and communications minor. She is the Head Nonfiction Editor for her campus' literary art magazine, Corridors and is Senior Copy Editor for her school's newspaper, The Greyhound News. In her free time, Tyra can be found reading a romance book (or two), dancing with her university’s dance company, or watching vlogs by her favorite YouTubers. She is a big fan of R&B and pop, with her favorite artists being Victoria Monét, Beyoncé, and Ariana Grande.