With Texas A&M graduation ceremonies postponed, friends, families and community members have come together to give seniors their own unique graduation experiences.
While most seniors were expecting a normal final semester in Aggieland, COVID-19 had different plans. Even with classes moved online, many seniors didn’t expect their graduation ceremonies would be taken from them too.
Computer science graduate Paige Raun said not having a traditional graduation feels like a hard stop for everyone's worries and efforts.
“As time for graduation got closer, I realized that the more real a virtual tradition came, the more I felt sad I would not be having one in person,” Raun said.
Raun said her family and friends quickly came together to celebrate her accomplishments and made graduation a positive experience for her despite the circumstances. She received emails from distant family and Facebook messages from her friends expressing their sorrow for the current situation.
“I was sad I could not share this moment with them in the way that everyone else had before me but that didn’t stop them from pouring love into me and trying to make the best out of the situation,” Raun said.
Raun said she decided to have her own Zoom graduation and Facebook event with her family, friends and community. Though Raun said it was bittersweet not having a traditional graduation, the virtual ceremony was a memorable experience.
“We were able to come together electronically, share memories and reconnect,” Raun said. “My brother made a virtual order of service with a precession, commencement speakers, a ring ceremony and the whole works. We processed in with fake graduation robes made from felt purchased at a Hobby Lobby and attempted to be as serious as we could while staring at 45 smiling faces of the people that built me up and made me who I am today.”
Recent visualization graduate Tanner Davis said not having a graduation ceremony wasn’t upsetting since he walked the same stage when he graduated Bryan High School.
Davis’ family celebrated him by hosting a small graduation party at his grandmother’s lake house. Despite the circumstances, he has taken a positive look at the unexpectancies he has experienced throughout his college career.
“I wish the guest list and the celebration could have been grander but I definitely am thankful that we made something happen,” said Davis. “It's another strange thing which my college experience has been full of so I think [my time at A&M] will definitely be remembered for the fun parts rather than the circumstances.”
For recent supply chain management graduate Elise Hueter, postponing graduation and holding a small family celebration made sense since she is at a high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19.
“My parents are my biggest supporters,” Hueter said. “They celebrated me by throwing a graduation celebration at our house with just the three of us. We all watched the virtual graduation together and my brother and out-of-town family were able to Zoom in which meant a lot to me. I don’t think anyone will be able to forget the class of 2020 and the year of virtual graduations.”