#CoronaCommencement: How COVID-19 has Affected College Graduations for the Class of 2020

May is traditionally a time for celebration. Holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day encourage fun festivities. May also marks the start of commencement season for many colleges and universities across the country. However, the current coronavirus crisis has put many spring graduations in jeopardy.

Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and Michigan Tech have all postponed their spring commencement ceremonies. Additionally, the University of Michigan canceled spring 2020 commencement exercises across all its campuses.

For college seniors, it has been hard to process the crisis going from causing all online classes initially, to now possibly not being able to walk the stage and receive their degree.

Detroit native and Bowling Green State University (BGSU) political science senior, JaLynn Livingston says this is not at all how she pictured her final year would end.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster trying to process the fact that my final year of undergrad has just come to an abrupt end.”

The former Cass Technician added her and the class of 2020 had worked hard over the past four years and felt as though COVID-19 was robbing them of an experience they deserve.

Similar to Michigan schools, BGSU, located in Ohio, is also following state and CDC guidelines to minimize spreading the coronavirus. The university has decided to postpone commencement exercises and reschedule for a later date, a date unknown at this time.

With no set date, there is no guarantee all or even most graduates would be able to attend a postponed commencement ceremony. They are likely to have started their professional careers, perhaps moved across the country, or even began graduate programs.

Fellow BGSU senior and Renaissance High School graduate Eric Minus says he understands why his school like so many others are taking precaution.

“They are making the safety of the students [and others] a priority, and our safety should always be priority number one.”

However, Minus still admits the uncertainty surrounding when or if he’ll get to wear his cap and gown is a difficult pill to swallow.

“Commencement is a chance to celebrate your accomplishments and end your collegiate career on a positive note… I think about the family and friends that come out to support and it just sucks that I may not get this experience.”

That’s what resonated with me.

When I look back on my 2018 graduation ceremony, I don’t remember who was the commencement speaker or what the keynote was. I think about all the family and friends who supported me along the way and cheered as I shook hands and received my degree.

So, to the class of 2020 I sincerely feel for you and hope the current crisis is resolved in time for you to hear “Pomp and Circumstance” in your cap and gown. However, in case it is not, whenever it is safe to go outside and gather, still celebrate with your loved ones because that is the memory you will cherish most.


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