What an unforgettable senior year.
Caps and gowns are being set aside, a graduation ceremony is now in question and seniors are having to make the rest of their last semester memories at home while the world continues its battle against the invisible threat of COVID-19.
Dixie State University students are mourning the loss of their senior year’s important events because of the actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“With regard to graduation, that’s a terrible situation, but I know that the university is working on options for next fall and other times to try to make up this very important ceremony for seniors,” said Christine Chew, associate professor of psychology.
DSU recently sent an email to all seniors announcing that due to the virus, the 109th Commencement Ceremony would be postponed, while also asking for their opinions about a graduation ceremony via survey.
The options included a campus-wide virtual ceremony on May 1, virtual department or college ceremonies, delaying graduation until Oct. 22 for face-to-face interaction, or a combination of virtual department or college award ceremonies with the face-to-face graduation ceremony in October.
“It’s a complex process how the human mind thinks about closure; ceremonies and rituals can be a big part of that,” Chew said. “In some ways, it marks an ending while in other ways a beginning; and yet, even without the ‘ritual’ people can still celebrate their success with loved ones.”
Lauren Gammell, a senior communication studies major from Spanish Fork, said she is sad she is not able to finish her last spring semester at DSU, but knows that it is a priority to focus on the safety and health of others at this time.
“My advice would be to try to find the positive aspects during this hard time,” Gammell said. “It’s key to realize that even though the graduation ceremony and senior year is so meaningful, the hard work and achievement that was put into it is the most important.”
Chew said the sudden events and cancellations can be seen as a metaphor for being an adult; it is a great life lesson for seniors who are upset about the situation.
“Being able to be flexible, understanding that life isn’t always fair and that timing marches to its own beat, shows that the student is now grown and mature,” Chew said. “DSU did its job to prepare their students for these types of things and they are doing exceptionally well.”
Savannah Ipsen, a senior exercise science major from Boise, Idaho, said although she wishes she would have gotten a couple more months to learn from her professors in person, she does not mind the switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester because she gets a lot of free time to herself.
“I would encourage other seniors to take advantage of the opportunity to learn remotely and spend time outside while finding new hobbies during this free time we have,” Ipsen said.
It is important to remember that the senior class’ accomplishments are still the same regardless of the type of graduation they get; all students can do right now is remain positive and focus on the bright side of the situation, Ipsen said.
Chew said despite missing out on the last month of traditional classes, seniors can still celebrate all of the friendships they made, experiences they’ve had and new skills they’ve learned.
“Graduation commencement being postponed cannot take those memories and experiences away,” Chew said. “This is why it’s important to keep it in perspective; it’s just one small part of a lifetime of memories, and remembering that while a ceremony can enhance that, it can’t take away the memories or friendships; and that is what we cherish.”