COVID-19 Epidemic – Class of 2020

No Graduation Ceremony

Our youngest daughter, Adina, along with thousands of other students from the class of 2020 throughout the nation, mourn the abrupt and unceremonious end to their college experience. She will not walk across the stage this Spring to receive her diploma in her highly anticipated college graduation ceremony, which would have been complete with warm hugs and handshakes. In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, we find ourselves navigating in a new world, protecting our health, and that of others.

In our family, college graduation marks a significant ritual milestone, and Adina has proudly cheered for her two older siblings with balloons and flower bouquets as they received their diplomas while vividly imagining her own one day. “The life of an individual in any society is a series of passages. For every one of these events, there are ceremonies whose essential purpose is to enable the individual to pass from one defined position to another,” writes Arnold van Gennep. As parents, we are pausing, acknowledging the sting, resisting our desire to make things right in an upended time, while attempting to keep the broader scope of loss in perspective.

Loss of Ritual

I feel sad that my daughter will not have the opportunity to celebrate with her graduating class or enjoy seeing and thanking her favorite professors. As humans, we crave interpersonal connection with closure and rituals, signifying rites of passage, in this case, the culmination of a successful college career.

Margot Keller excitedly anticipated her daughter’s graduation. As a mother, she delighted at the thought of seeing her daughter, Brooke, flourish in college marked by close friendships, hard work, and various significant personal accomplishments all worth celebrating. Brooke imagined receiving her hard-earned degree while proudly walking across the stage and seeing the faces of professors that guided and inspired her passion for learning. Without an official Spring commencement, Brooke left, hoping that her college will honor the Class of 2020 with a postponed graduation event.

Making New Meaning

To honor the Class of 2020, we are becoming creative out of necessity, arranging virtual gatherings with friends and family that honor our graduates’ hard work and noteworthy accomplishments from our backyards in a more home-style manner. Although we cannot celebrate in person as we had hoped, let’s make sure we recognize the achievements, work ethic, motivation, follow-through, and perseverance that our graduates have put into their education.

I intend baking my special graduate a cake, if you don’t enjoy baking, consider supporting a small local bakery by ordering for curbside pick-up. For some graduates, a little virtual gathering with close friends designed to reminisce and congratulate one another may feel most appropriate. Some colleges and high schools are inviting students to share a short video reflecting on their college career for sharing with the entire class. Allow your graduate to take the lead in determining what feels most fitting to commemorate their graduation.

However you choose to celebrate, Congratulations to the Senior Class of 2020!

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” ~ B.B. King

Editor’s note: Natasha Reisner is a regular writer for The Suncoast Post. Read what she learned from her travels climbing Mount Fuji.

Photo from Deposit Photos.

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2020-04-25