Recent graduates remain hopeful for in-person ceremony

Mya Melancon

News Editor

Northwestern State University has made the decision to cancel the in-person ceremony for the Spring 2020 graduates. Many of the graduates are disappointed but remain hopeful for an in person ceremony later this fall.

The planned ceremony was intended to make up for the virtual commencement ceremony on May 8 to provide graduates with a traditional graduation.

On July 7, an email was sent to the student body containing a message from President Dr. Chris Maggio discussing the choice to cancel the Summer 2020 in-person commencement ceremony, citing the recent surge in coronavirus cases and the extension of Louisiana’s reopening plan per Governor Edwards’s orders.

“Paramount in our decision was the safety and health of the graduates, their families, faculty and staff members and other guests that would have participated in the programs,” Maggio said.

This action comes as a disappointment to many Spring 2020 graduates who were hoping to walk across the stage. Holly Jenkins is one of the many graduates affected

“I was looking forward to celebrating my achievements with my classmates, friends and family. Graduation is such a huge accomplishment and I had been looking forward to the ceremony all year,” Jenkins said.

However, the decision is also being met with a great deal of understanding from those affected. Jacob Ellis, former Student Government Association president and recent graduate from the NSU College of Business and Technology, is one of many graduates who were disheartened by the news of the cancelled ceremony.

“I think the university is doing the very best that it is able to do to give its graduates a ceremony worthy of their accomplishments. I think that if a postponed in-person ceremony isn’t possible at this time, students should be able to walk in the next graduation ceremony that the university hosts, whenever that may be. By the sound of Dr. Maggio’s email, I believe that is what will happen and that’s all I can ask for,” Ellis said. 

Thomas Celles, another Spring 2020 graduate, said that he’d rather wait and participate in a traditional commencement ceremony.

 Celles also recommended that NSU be prepared to make some major adjustments to the planned Fall 2020 ceremony to accommodate three semesters worth of graduates.

Maggio and the rest of the university’s administration are working to ensure the Fall 2020 semester is as close to normal as it can be, which includes the hopes of hosting a traditional in-person commencement ceremony in December.

“We still hope to recognize [the Spring 2020 class] at a traditional commencement ceremony and will invite them to participate in the university’s next graduation exercises. We hope that will be in December,” Maggio said.

Maggio said that he hopes to have an in-person ceremony for the Fall 2020 graduates. 

“It certainly depends on the pandemic, what Phase we are in, and what we will be allowed to do.  Our plans right now are to be able to hold a face to face graduation in December,” he said.

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