Graduation blues: UMKC seniors react to postponed commencement ceremony

Amina Dalton

The coronavirus has turned this semester into one unlike any before it. With campus closed, students have to take all of their classes online. A city-wide “stay-at-home” order mandates that people only come out of their homes for essential items only. Libraries, small businesses and other stores have closed their doors until further notice. 

Now, the one thing UMKC seniors look forward to the most is postponed as well.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMKC administration postponed its in-person commencement ceremony until December. 

The news elicited some negative reactions from seniors.

“I’ve worked so hard to get to this point of being able to be a part of a commencement ceremony,” said Amaya Wilson, a senior studying psychology and criminal justice. “For it to be taken away from me because of something out of my control has saddened me.”

Jaelon Brooks, a senior studying interpersonal communication, said, “It hurts having to accept that a major milestone in my life isn’t going to go as imagined. I never thought it would come to this, but as things have progressed, I’m starting to understand the severity of what the world is going through. This situation is affecting everyone’s life, and I’m no different.”

According to UMKC administration, they have postponed in-person ceremony to ensure the safety of students, faculty members and the families of the graduating class. Instead of the traditional commencement ceremony, UMKC plans on offering another way to commemorate the students for their academic achievements.

“In May, we fully intend to find a fun, creative way to celebrate your graduation and commencement virtually. We have ideas, but want to hear yours,” Chancellor Agrawal said.

Though the university is trying to make up for the lack of a ceremony in May, some students had made preparations expecting a spring commencement.

“I’m very hurt that I can’t walk the stage next month,” said Ituwa Lubani, a senior studying health science. “I made a lot of preparations and my family was very excited to see me walk, but it is what it is.”

UMKC sent out a survey to get student feedback about how to celebrate the students’ accomplishments virtually. 

In a press release from the University of Missouri System, president Mun Choi addressed the UM schools, all of which are doing virtual commencement ceremonies.

“We know how disappointed our students, parents and families are that we won’t be able to hold our commencement ceremonies in May,” Choi said. “Hundreds of UM faculty and staff take part in these ceremonies each year, and it brings us great pride to celebrate our students’ accomplishments alongside them and their families. This May, we will have to adjust how we celebrate to ensure the safety of our university communities.”

Despite the changes, UMKC seniors are still pressing forward to finish this semester well.

“I’m still proud of my accomplishments and finishing strong even through all of this,” Lubani said.

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