Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Seniors reflect on loss of commencement

Thursday, April 30, 2020
A graduation candidate gazes towards the audience at Southeast Missouri State University's winter commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Photo by Brooke Holford

Following the loss of the spring commencement ceremony, Southeast announced plans to invite seniors missing graduation to attend next year's commencement in December 2020 or May 2021.

“I am pleased to announce that all Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 candidates for graduation will receive an invitation to participate in the commencement program scheduled for Dec. 19, 2020, or May 15, 2021, during which they will be formally recognized,” Vargas stated in an email on April 9 to students.

Initially, the university closed all campus events until May 15 — the day before spring commencement was scheduled — leaving some hope for the event. As the situation worsened across the globe, university officials decided to postpone the commencement ceremony in May.

Some students who were planning to walk across the stage to receive their college degree this May have mixed emotions.

“I was robbed of my last semester of college — you know, something that should be momentous and gratifying and enjoyable,” general studies major Evan McCann said.

“It feels like I've been shortchanged, feels like I'm losing that last part of the school year that I was really banking on,” corporate communications major Michael Miller said. “There were some things that I wanted to do before the end of the semester with all my friends and now kind of just feels like it's been ripped away from me because of the virus,” McCann said.

“I was definitely a little upset,” marketing management major Brandon Harris said. “It’s a big milestone in anyone’s career — walking across that stage.”

McCann believes university officials ultimately did not have much of a choice.

“Honestly, I think Southeast is doing the best they can to handle the situation,” McCann said. “It's kind of one of those wildcard situations where you don't think it's ever gonna happen and it does.”

Although he understands why the decision was made to postpone commencement, McCann didn't expect his collegiate career to end this way.

“I’m a little disappointed. I didn’t think my last year of college was going to be like this,” McCann said.

Miller believes the December and following May 2021 ceremonies won’t be heavily attended by May 2020 graduates.

“I feel like it'll be smaller because everybody's gonna have to try and come back to this thing to Cape Girardeau,” Miller said. “People are probably taking jobs far away, so I feel like it's gonna be a lot smaller and not as meaningful at all.”

Despite the obvious setback from missing the event, some remain hopeful, looking to the future.

“I know what I accomplished, regardless of whether or not I go through a ceremony,” sports management major Sam Kehrer said. “I’m excited to get out there and see what the world has to offer me when all of this is over.”