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A Reason to Celebrate

By Lana Sumner-Borema

Photo Credit to The Advocate

Among all of the nonconventional routines and celebrations that came in the Spring 2020 semester, possibly the most disappointing for Barry students was the virtual commencement ceremony. Seniors missed out on caps, gowns, pictures with friends, and celebrations with family. The nature of the Spring 2020 ceremony is what made current Barry seniors excited and relieved to learn that the Spring 2021 commencement ceremony will be held in-person on Monday, May 10.

Photo of Marlins Park by ABC7 News

The ceremony will be held at Marlins Park with all attendees following social distancing protocols. Graduates from 2020 and Spring 2021 will be recognized.

Amanda Araujo is a first-generation college student who graduated from Barry in Spring 2020 with a degree in psychology. She is looking forward to the in-person event.

“My partner is graduating this semester, and I would like us to take pictures in our caps and gowns together,” said Araujo.

Araujo’s partner, Michelle Etchebaster-Martins, will be graduating in May with a degree in exercise physiology. Araujo is also excited for her parents to have the opportunity to see her walk across the stage.

Photo Credit to The Collegiate Times

Araujo had a difficult time dealing with the news of the virtual commencement in Spring 2020. She had been awaiting her graduation day for three and a half years, and the news that she would not get to walk across the stage shocked her.

Luckily, Araujo’s mom organized a special family celebration for her. While Araujo enjoyed this quality at-home time, like many others, she still felt as if she missed out on the traditional event.

While the class of 2020 grappled with the sudden change of tradition, the class of 2021 got so accustomed to the COVID-19 lifestyle, that is, everything being conducted virtually, that the in-person commencement took them by surprise.

Evodxia Mastrominas, a chemistry major from Karpathos, an island in the southeastern part of Greece, is graduating this May. She was not expecting the commencement to be in-person.

“I was convinced the graduation for this semester would [also be] online, based on the protocols followed from last semester,” Mastrominas said.

Similar to Araujo, Mastrominas notes that graduation is less for her, but more like a day to celebrate her accomplishments with her family and friends.

Photo Credit to Times Higher Education

While commencement ceremonies are a symbol of success for all students, for first-generation and international students, securing a bachelor's degree is monumental. The in-person commencement ceremony will give Araujo and Mastrominas the opportunity to embrace this accomplishment fully.

Faculty members at Barry are also a big part of this celebration. That’s why Dr. Celeste Landeros, faculty senate chair, and professor of English and Humanities will be participating in the in-person commencement ceremony.

At these ceremonies, Landeros carries the Barry University mace, which is a “heavy staff that is a symbol of scholarship and integrity and that signals that this in an important event," she said.

Landeros also participated in the Spring 2020 commencement ceremony, but the procession had to be filmed privately before graduation day. She text messaged her individual students as their names appeared on the screen to congratulate them.

“Many of the students who I texted with during the 2020 graduation have let me know they will be there in person in May,” said Landeros.

“I will be happy to see all the 2020 and 2021 graduates in person, to give them air hugs and a big thumbs up,” she said.