Spring graduates speak on the lack of an in-person graduation

Students mention how not being there physically for graduation is an unusual experience.


Illustration by J.R. Pfeiffer.

Brianna Smith, Staff Writer

This past March, the entire class of 2020 was stripped of some of life’s most pivotal experiences, like graduation. About 14 million college students, alone, have been afflicted by the results of COVID-19.

FAU had over 3,400 degrees to distribute to students, this past spring, but not in the traditional way that students have pictured their graduation day to be.

With the unexpectedness of the coronavirus, it was hard for students to focus on graduation at all. They were more focused on what their next steps would be or where they would go, as FAU encouraged them to return home to ensure the safety of everyone. 

Faithe Desinor is a first-generation graduate who majored in Multimedia Journalism. Originally from Boston, her main focus towards the end of the spring semester was figuring out how she would get back home to her family. 

“Honestly, graduation was the last thing on my family’s minds there are so many complicated outside factors that had more of a lasting impact,” Desinor said.

For graduates, there were other things such as moving out or finding where to go, once they were informed of the COVID-19 rules and regulations, which took away from the celebration of graduation.

The goal of attending university is obtaining some form of degree, but who would’ve thought it would be on the screens of computers, as FAU has announced the graduation ceremony to be.

As a Senior Accounting Major, R’Khal Hargro received her bachelor’s while planning on returning to attend graduate school to earn her Master’s of Accounting with a focus in Forensic Accounting. 

“FAU didn’t put together a day for the entire graduating class to be celebrated [in-person],” Hargro said. “They were talking about how the school board wanted to possibly combine the fall graduates with spring graduates and do one huge ceremony.”

They have sent emails congratulating the students on earning their degree while also apologizing for the inconvenience of the effects of the Coronavirus. FAU made the attempt of showing their appreciation towards the students.

“They did send a little package that said ‘congrats you graduated.’ They gave us little goodie things, and a license plate that says ‘FAU alumni,’” Hargro said.

Although some students expressed that, while they wanted a ceremony, safety is first and that FAU handled the situation to the best of their ability given the abrupt circumstances. Others felt that a lot more could have been done for the graduates. 

“At the beginning of quarantine they really kept a lot of information from us in terms of what’s going to happen,” Desinor said.

The administration still reached out as they continued sending out gift boxes and their congratulations with the aim of showing FAU’s effort in recognizing and appreciating these students, despite the reality of today’s world.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree is a milestone in itself. Some, accomplishing the goal of becoming a first-generation graduate within their family and others completing their four years as a senior– it is something that many think about at, even, a young age.

Being back home in Boston, on spring break, when receiving the news that students should return home, was hard for Desinor. It was in the heat of quarantine so she remained in Boston for a little longer than expected.

“It’s a lot more difficult for my family to come because there are restrictions on traveling and stuff. I’m from Boston, I’m not even from Florida,” Desinor said. “Definitely not what I pictured graduation semester to be like.”

The entire college experience is what a lot of people look forward to, most importantly, graduating and moving forward to their next steps in life. 

“I imagined that whole moment in my mind and I was like, ‘this is going to be so great,’” said Hargro. “I thought it was just going to be the best thing in the world, not to mention I was going to have my family there to experience me walk across the stage.”

Students missed out on being able to partake in graduation activities such as photos and parties, amongst other things. 

“It definitely makes you feel a certain type of way because you look forward to walking across the stage saying ‘I got my degree,’” Hargro said.

It may not have been what the graduates planned, but health and wellness was the number one goal for everyone’s safety.

“I feel like this pandemic just hit everybody; it took us by storm,” Hargro said. “You never know what happens in life, FAU prepared the best way they could but, when something of this magnitude affects an entire country and nation, you have to be safe and take the right precautions.” 

No matter the path these graduates take on next, one thing that will remain certain is that they are an FAU graduate, class of 2020. 

“The funny thing about life is that we’re all trying to figure it out,” Hargro said, “and in order for you to grow and learn you have to understand how to handle obstacles and you cannot run away when you hit one.” 

Bria Smith is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @itsbriiaa.