Thanks For Ruining Graduation, Coronavirus

Ariana Rodriguez/Staff Writer

When I was little, I dreamed of walking on my graduation after seeing my uncle get his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. 

I was about four years when I witnessed his graduation ceremony. So, if a four-year old saw the importance of earning a degree after years of tears and sleepless nights, then everyone else should see that as well. To all the soon-to-be-graduates (myself included): our graduation walk will remain just a dream.

FIU confirmed that Spring 2020 commencement will be held virtually on May 8 at 10 a.m. due to COVID-19, and we have the choice to walk with our class during the summer or fall ceremonies. All universities are going through this phase, and there are many students at the finish line who feel defeated without a handshake from their school’s president. 

The virtual commencement will just have virtual handshakes and smiles, but it won’t be like the real experience. The best—and the most human—part of the ceremony is that it will have a short clip or photo of the graduate. 

If any student is still in Florida during the next commencement, then their dream of walking on graduation can become a reality. Many of them, however, are planning to move to where their careers will be and won’t be in town for the next ceremony.

Virtual commencement and the option to walk with the class of Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 don’t seem realistic to me. Those two options lack what makes graduation really special, like a proud mother crying tears of joy. The other option to walk with another class might leave you without your family or loved ones present because of a shortage of tickets.

The only other option that makes sense is to have an entire commencement just for the spring graduates, which was not an option when FIU first started making preparations for COVID-19. Before it was said that the spring graduates had either the option of doing the virtual commencement and/or going to the next available graduation, which felt unfair.

All of my friends who are graduating now just rejected those two options because they, along with most of FIU, are Hispanic. Hispanic families tend to attend all events, especially graduation. 

The wisest option is for each class to graduate separately, an option which everyone I know is looking forward to. No student would want to leave their grandmother or another loved one out of the celebration due to a lack of tickets, which would have been an issue if both classes graduated at the same time.

The most memorable part of graduating is pretty much out of the equation for the students who will be leaving or already have left Florida. FIU can perhaps send a few items to the spring graduates like a cord or a box with FIU merchandise.

Also, based on requests from my best friends who are graduating, FIU should send virtual reality equipment or glasses to enhance the experience and make it more tangible. Since some students will be out of Florida, the virtual commencement would be all they get to experience. 

If this graduation ends up feeling like an unfulfilled dream, we should all still feel grateful and proud to complete an important part in our academic journey. Congrats to everyone graduating despite the circumstances. 

Featured image by FIU on Flickr.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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