virtual commencement reaction

Students will have the opportunity to attend their graduation ceremony virtually at 10 a.m. May 9, according to a statement released by President Wendy Wintersteen. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many cancellations, and Iowa State’s commencement ceremonies were no exception. Senior students are facing the reality of their unusual situation during uncertain times. 

In a statement released April 10, President Wendy Wintersteen announced that all of the university’s spring 2020 commencement ceremonies were switching to an online format, including ones held by student organizations. This measure was done out of the university’s “commitment to prioritize health and safety,” according to Wintersteen’s message.

Each graduate will receive in the mail a diploma cover, a streamer tube and a graduation tassel as gifts from the university. All spring 2020 graduates were also invited to attend the fall 2020 and spring 2021 ceremonies in Wintersteen’s statement.

“Some of the cancellations make me sad, but I know they’re the right thing to do,” said Trinity Dearborn, senior in women’s and gender studies. “I think I will probably watch the online graduation; it’s weird to think about it as ‘going to it.’”

Dearborn said they are particularly disappointed about the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success’ annual Lavender Graduation for Iowa State’s LGBTQIA+ graduates.

“That’s the one graduation I really wanted to go to, but I think it will be good even online,” Dearborn said.

Kyle Kinneer, senior in graphic design and Spanish, said he is unsure if he will attend the university’s virtual graduation due to work obligations and the pace of everything starting to pick back up.

“I have so many other things going on,” Kinneer said. “I feel that there is a lot of stress surrounding graduation, as I had an internship with the World Food Prize Foundation this spring, which was essentially uprooted. The organization has tried to make the process as normal as possible, but I have not been able to get near the number of required hours to graduate and still have no idea what is happening in that regard. At this point, I’m not even sure I will receive a diploma I was supposed to have in the bag.” 

Wintersteen signed off the announcement with a special message for the spring class of 2020: “We know this is not the ending you imagined to your Iowa State adventure, but the spring 2020 graduating class will forever share a special place in history. This pandemic has challenged you in unprecedented ways, and I am so very proud of the strength of your Cyclone spirit.”

Kinneer thinks the university has done everything in its power to push through uncertain times but is unsure of what the future is going to hold academically. 

“I just want to know whether or not I’m even slated to graduate anymore,” Kinneer said. “I think I speak for so many people when I say our mental health has suffered so much due to COVID-19, and some peace of mind regarding school and whether or not we are going to receive our diplomas is well overdue... I feel like a lot of people would rather receive their diplomas at this point and begin job searching as it will be extremely difficult given that most places are no-hire currently.”

Virtual commencement for undergraduates and graduates is at 10 a.m. May 9.

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