By Michidael Ceard
Barry University president Mike Allen announced through a Covid-19 update email sent to students on March 23 that the Spring 2020 commencement ceremony will be postponed and degrees will be conferred virtually in May.
Since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has mandated social distancing across the nation to stop the deadly impact of Covid-19, universities have switched to remote learning and have cancelled all gatherings—commencement ceremonies included.
Barry seniors are saddened by the impact that Covid-19 has had on their last semester at the university. Nonetheless, seniors understand that the precautions are necessary to protect public health.
Jonathan Dominique, senior sports management student, looked forward to attending his commencement ceremony this May. However, he understands why commencement and other senior activities like the honors convocation and the rose and candle ceremony were cancelled.
“Commencement was one of the things we looked forward to the most our senior year and it’s unfortunate that due to the current circumstances we won’t be having it,” said Dominique. “But I’d rather not have it and put everyone’s health into consideration.”
Barry student body president Sirena Register who is also an international studies major echoes the same sentiments as Dominique as a graduating senior herself.
“It’s something we have been looking forward to,” said Register. “With the situation at hand, our lives [have changed] abruptly. It’s disheartening, but it is out of our control or the school’s control. We can only stay on track, keep pushing, and not lose hope. Everything will happen later.”
A later graduation ceremony calls for later implementation of the new cap decorating allowance that went into effect for graduating seniors last December. Students were enthusiastic over the possibility of decorating their caps but with the postponement of commencement, it is temporarily out of the picture.
Register hopes the momentum over cap decorating will continue for future commencements.
“Students were super excited that they would get the opportunity to showcase either what they’ve accomplished over their college career or what’s to come after,” said Register. “Last year’s fall commencement was the first time students were able to showcase their decorated caps. We didn’t have any issues, so it’ll be something we can look forward to.”
Despite the disappointment, seniors have been enamored with the idea of having a later commencement ceremony. It appears that this could be the next possible option for Barry seniors.
“I wouldn’t even mind walking in December,” said Dominique. “Any event with the staff and friends who I’ve trusted and grew with over the years is surely worth it.”
Register says that it could be a practical idea, but other factors may keep students from returning.
“I think students will come back for commencement if they can. But we can’t necessarily expect to see them because people have made other commitments in advance,” she said.
Nonetheless, for Barry seniors, 2020 has been one for the books. The Covid-19 pandemic has allotted extra time for students working remotely.
Register urges her senior class to make the best of the situation.
“Great things never come from comfort zones,” said Register. “We are out of our element but it’s not all bad. It has been a key element in nurturing ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is also a time where many of us can focus on what we really want to achieve in the future.”
What the rest of 2020 holds for graduating seniors remains unclear. Nonetheless, one controllable aspect is the outlook on the situation.
Surely, positivity will reap great benefits for the graduating class.