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Commencement cancellation causes heartbreak for senior

by Sydney Davis

Social Media Manager

I'm sure you've heard that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rochester University's commencement ceremony on May 2 has been cancelled. It breaks my heart to write those words because this was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time.

I honestly feel guilty for being so devastated by the cancellation of a mere event given the circumstances of the world. Of course, I am truly grateful to be safe and healthy. I am blessed to have access to the resources and support that I need to complete the final weeks of my degree online.

That being said, this situation is particularly upsetting for me. You see, I actually wasn’t allowed to participate in my high school graduation ceremony. Essentially, I completed all of the required high school credits early. From the school’s standpoint, I technically skipped 12th grade (even though I took all of the same classes) and therefore was not considered a graduating senior. I never got to wear a cap and gown or walk with my peers.

I finished high school and started earning college credits through Specs Howard School of Media Arts’ graphic design program. I finished my graphic design diploma courses and then was in a car accident on the day of the graduation ceremony. Once again, I missed the commencement with my class, and my diploma was mailed to me.

After my credits from Specs transferred to Rochester University, I have been completing my bachelor's degree in mass communication for the past two years. Now, just weeks away from what would have been my first graduation ever, the 2020 spring commencement was canceled due to COVID-19.

I wish I would have known that the last day of classes before Spring Break would be my last day as a student on the beautiful campus that I have grown fond of over the years.

I wish I could pose for photos with the professors at Rochester who have deeply influenced, challenged and changed me—their support and wisdom have shaped my identity and how I view the world.

But that’s not where the story ends…

My fellow seniors, despite the pandemic, we are still going to finish our hard-earned degrees, one of the most significant accomplishments of our lives so far. The time and effort we have put in and the knowledge we have gained will forever be with us.

Dr. Seuss, one of my favorite authors, once said, “Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along.You’ll start happening too...And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains!.” So, try not to worry (or stew) and channel the success that lies within you into everything you do.

In mourning the spring commencement ceremony that we have all been looking forward to, I keep reminding myself of our mission to serve in this world. This mission can take many forms and right now we are being called to protect our communities from the spread of a virus that has deeply affected our world.

We are Warriors. We will persevere.

Stay home, stay safe and stay well.

Read more of Shield's in-depth coverage about RU and the impact of COVID-19



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