2020 graduates invited to upcoming in-person commencement

The spring and winter commencement ceremonies from 2020 were just a few of the casualties left in the immense wake of the coronavirus pandemic this past year. So, it is understandable that emotions are running high, as these recent graduates decide whether or not to participate in the spring 2021 commencement, of which they are invited to attend.

Grace Paduano, a media arts graduate, is bummed there wasn’t any real closure to her college experience, but she does not plan to attend. She believes a commencement a year after graduating is simply too detached, particularly when she hasn’t connected with anyone she went to school with since last May.

“I just think it’s too far removed,” Paduano said. “It will be a year after I graduated, so personally that’s not how I’d like to spend a weekend. It wasn’t possible or safe to have a commencement closer to when I actually graduated and I understand [and have accepted] that.”

Ellie Cowan, a history graduate who returned to school for her degree in her forties, will not be able to attend due to COVID-related health conditions. However, if the pandemic and mask mandates were not an ongoing issue, she would be there.

“Graduation would have been a first for me, and I didn’t realize the impact of not having it until last May,” Cowan said. “When graduation time hit last spring, it was the culmination of four years of hard work — a Bachelor’s in History, a Latin certificate and the first year of Law School complete. However, it just came and went without any real sense of completion.”

According to Cowan, she’s happy that Boise State is attempting to recognize the students from 2020, but it feels like their moment has passed into the COVID-19 abyss.

Samantha Ruth, a psychology and criminal justice graduate, is ecstatic that they have invited the graduating classes from 2020 to be part of the ceremony and plans on attending.

“It may not be the same since many of my friends and classmates are not deciding to walk for graduation, due to it being an inconvenience to their life, but I’m really excited for it,” Ruth said. “There’s some students whose dream is to just walk across that stage and hear their name be called in front of their college that they are graduating from and their family members who are attending, and May 7 will be their day.”

[Photo of Samantha Ruth and family.]
Photo courtesy Samantha Ruth

Ruth double-majored in her four years at Boise State, taking 15 credits nearly every semester, including summer. She’s looking forward to receiving a proper graduation as the culmination of all the hard work and time that her education demanded.

“I see it as you only graduate once, unless you plan on getting a master’s degree or furthering your education,” Ruth said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk across that stage and to actually receive the praise we hope to. When the opportunity came up, of course I jumped on it and plan to attend no matter the situations or protocols. It’s like a sense of normalcy we can finally receive.”

Caydon Burnett, a communications graduate, was interviewed by The Arbiter in the spring of 2020, when it was initially announced that the graduation commencement would be held virtually due to the pandemic. Last year he didn’t think he would attend commencement at a later time, an outlook he still holds.

“By the time the ceremony rolls around, that’s already a whole year since I’ve graduated,” Burnett said. “That’s kind of crazy [that] it’s already been that long, but it only reinforces the notion that I’ve moved on. It’s one of those things that’s very conditional. It kind of has to happen at the time you actually finish, otherwise the effect isn’t really there. It’s like having a birthday party way after your birthday is already over. Sure it’s fun, but it’s not quite the same.”

According to Burnett, his family has expressed that they may still want him to attend, so if he ends up going, it would be more for his family than for himself. But other than that, he doesn’t feel compelled to do so. However, he did express gratitude to Boise State for inviting the classes from 2020 to participate in the commencement ceremonies.

“I do appreciate that they’ve made it a thing,” Burnett said. “It’s really nice that they’ve been considerate enough of our class that they are still going to hold it to recognize those who want to participate. I think that’s super rad and it’s nice they didn’t forget us, for lack of a better term.”

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