Graduating Without the Ceremony

Covid-19 has greatly impacted DSU, and the key changes have been the closing of campus, classes moving online, and the cancellation of most spring 2020 activities. One of the most important spring events is the spring commencement ceremony, which has been canceled until recently. The ceremony is currently scheduled for October 4th, 2020, during DSU’s Homecoming weekend. It will honor the spring and summer 2020 graduates. Although, as Covid-19 is still changing and evolving, the ceremony may end up being held virtually instead of in person.

A survey was sent out to the 2020 spring graduates asking what they would prefer for their graduation. There were four options:

  • a virtual commencement ceremony in August,
  • a ceremony during homecoming weekend,
  • combining the fall 2020 and spring 2020 ceremonies in December,
  • or no ceremony.

Personally, given all of the options, no ceremony is my choice. Though, when I voted, I believe I put the virtual ceremony last and no ceremony second. I don’t recall where I placed the other options. We received another email towards the end of April that said the most favored answer from the survey was a graduation ceremony during Homecoming. With campus planning to reopen in the fall, it’s possible that a physical commencement could take place then. However, Covid-19 is still new and changing, so there’s really no guarantees anywhere.

It is certainly strange to be graduating without a ceremony. The most bizarre thing is that I don’t really feel like I’m finishing school. I know this is my senior year and after this week I’m done with my bachelor’s degree, but there were no goodbyes. I haven’t gotten any closure. I’m not sure the ceremony would have given that, but it might have given me a little more stability, although stability is not something anyone has a surplus of these days.

My graduation was supposed to happen May 9th, and I was planning on taking a trip out of the country on the 13th to celebrate. I canceled that flight before the airline did. I won’t be able to celebrate with my family (my whole family, that is) for a while. Honestly, I might just eat some popcorn and watch a few movies to celebrate. I’m sure once this is all over my family won’t let me get away with not having a party. Not that I can blame them—when this clears over, I think everyone could use a reason to celebrate.

 Frankly, I’m nervous about what the future holds. I can say that trying to find a job during a pandemic is not easy, but neither is living during a pandemic or being an essential worker right now.

Everything is weird now. I am not sure if things will go completely back to normal, even when all of this clears up. I don’t know if it can after everything that has happened. Life-changing events like major wars, economic depressions, or pandemics tend to change one’s world view. My grandma was a little girl during the Dust Bowl in South Dakota, and I know that living through that made her different than her children or even people a few years younger than her.

So, now that reality is a little strange and a little scary, it feels almost silly to be thinking about things like missing my graduation ceremony. I know that it’s important, and I’ve seen my friends share flashbacks on social media from when they graduated a year ago. I don’t really feel that sad about it. Maybe it’s because there’s a pandemic, or instead, I’m worrying about other things like paying my rent with no job, but I don’t really mind not having graduation. Yes, it would have been nice to take the pictures and walk across the stage as I planned to, but I’ve waited four years to do that. What’s another couple of months?

I guess what I’m trying to say in all of my ramblings is that it’s okay to be sad that you missed out on stuff this year, but you should also know that things are gonna get better. There are doctors and scientists and medical professionals of all areas working to keep everybody safe and try to find a cure for this. A vaccine may still be a little way away, but until then we’ll just have to adjust to this new normal, whatever that normal may be. If you’re really looking for a way to celebrate your graduation you could always hold a virtual one with your friends and family. Get dressed up, video-call everyone with whatever service you use, and strut across your imaginary stage.

Everything is gonna work out. Until then, make the most of what you can. Stay safe everyone.

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