RU seniors react to graduation ceremony cancellation

by Karina Aguilar / Staff Reporter

Student wearing cap and gown.

On March 19, Roosevelt University announced that it is canceling the graduation ceremony for Spring 2020. Along with the announcement, school officials sent out a survey to find a time to possibly reschedule the graduation if restrictions are lifted for large events. Possible new dates include Friday, June 26, Monday, July 27 or Saturday, Aug. 8. 

Although the CDC suggests it is important to suspend large gatherings for the safety of everyone involved, students still seem very upset with the possibility of never getting to experience their college graduation with their friends and family. 

“When I found out graduation was canceled, it felt like a piece of me was gone because I have worked so hard to obtain my degree,” said senior early childhood education major, Jenny Vazquez. “With graduation being over, it feels like I’m not really done like I’m not truly closing that chapter of my life. If they did reschedule, I would definitely attend.”

On top of missing out on the opportunity to say farewell to the community the students spent years of their lives in, students might lose the experience of being the first in their family to walk across the stage.

Roosevelt clearly has a lot of first-generation students whose families heavily anticipate their graduation, with 45 percent of students being first-generation students. Some students say this makes it harder to face the possibility of losing their moment to walk across the stage and show their accomplishments to their families. 

“I’m the first in my family to go to college, so this was supposed to be a momentous occasion,” said Ariana Pozos, a senior majoring in political science. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but I’d rather have it postponed rather than outright canceled.”

Because of the importance of this graduation ceremony and all of the work put into their degree, students strongly urge the school administration to think about the weight of the decision they are making. 

“I would just tell administrators to truly think about the seniors this year who have truly lost everything and our graduation is the last thing we have,” said Vazquez. “Being a first-generation student, this degree is not only for me but also my parents who have supported me all those nights and made sure I had everything I needed to finish.” 

Students also appear to want administrators to consider Roosevelt University’s values when making the decision of whether or not to reschedule graduation.

“I would ask them to hold themselves accountable for carrying out Roosevelt’s mission of social justice,” said senior women’s and gender studies maor, Bonnie Breyer. “I hope they  listen to students and conside all of their situations in order to find a solution which accommodates and honors the work of the class of 2020.” 

While some seniors desperately want the graduation ceremony rescheduled, others will be unable to attend regardless.

“I am not sure if I will be able to come back for graduation. Personally, I am already looking for jobs and potential alternate online graduate programs so I am not sure if I can come back on short notice,” said Lexi Johannessen, a senior sociology major. “It would also be really difficult for my family to attend since they are all from North Carolina and it would be a challenge to make travel arrangements for all of them.”

Aside from possibly missing out on a proper ceremony for their graduation, seniors are also facing issues as they prepare to navigate in the world after they get their diplomas. 

“My student teaching got cut short so I never went to say goodbye to my class, and I missed out on new learning opportunities with my kids,” said Vazquez. “Also, as a peer mentor in the learning commons, I am no longer able to see my mentees, and I didn’t get to say goodbye to them.

Some seniors are even experiencing complications with schools they were planning to go to. They are struggling to figure out how they are going to pursue continuing their education.

“I have accepted an offer to get my master’s degree in equality and human rights this fall in Scotland at the University of Glasgow,” said Johannssen. “As of right now, they are unsure if the UK will be issuing student visas or even resuming in-person education in the fall.”

If students were not planning on pursuing another degree, they are also experiencing a lot of uncertainty and fear when it comes to finding a job. 

“So many places are laying people off right now, and it doesn’t seem like people are looking for new full-time employees, which is scary in terms of affording rent in the future but also feels like a justification for focusing on school work and not a job hunt right now,” said Breyer. 

Although seniors are dealing with a lot of stress and uncertainty, they also seem to be focusing on finding other ways to celebrate their amazing accomplishments. 

Breyer said, “I had planned on having a get-together with close family and friends in the summer to celebrate my accomplishment and will probably still do so, whenever social distancing guidelines are relaxed and it’s safe to.”

It also seems like a priority for the seniors to find a positive outlook.

“It’s okay to be sad and it’s ok to be unsure of things,” said Pozos. “It hasn’t been the semester we could have ever envisioned, but it will eventually get better. Keep your heads up.”

Above all, it seems extremely important to seniors that they continue to be proud of themselves. 

“Congratulations!! We did it! Everything in the world might be crazy right now but take time to celebrate yourself and this accomplishment,” said Johannssen. “Watching my friends and our campus community handle these challenging times has made me even more proud to be a part of this graduating class.” 

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