In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States, many universities were forced to close their campuses. Closure of campuses meant bad news for seniors: no graduation at the end of this semester. With bans for group gatherings in place, not only graduation was cancelled; seniors cannot even celebrate their accomplishments with their friends and family.
On March 20th, ERAU announced that graduation at the Prescott campus would be postponed to the Fall semester during OctoberWest. With this news, seniors had a lot of decisions to make: will they walk during the October graduation, or will their new obligations stop them from attending; will they still celebrate now, without walking, or will they put their celebration plans on hold?
Everybody is very proud when they successfully finish university, and they can share their accomplishments with the world by walking in the graduation ceremony. Many seniors had planned who would be coming to their graduations and celebrations months in advance. Kyle Lutterman, an Aeronautical Engineering major – Aero track, said “My original plans for graduation were to have my family come down on April 30th … see me walk across the stage … and probably have a little bit of a celebration down here with some of my friends that haven’t left yet as well as my family; and then go home, spend a little time with family, and then head off to whatever job or work that I got.” Ferrin Katz, a Software Engineering major, also planned to have his parents come to Prescott to watch him walk in the graduation ceremony. He even hoped that his grandmothers would be able to attend. After the graduation, he planned a little celebration with the whole family. Now that the graduation is postponed, “I am probably not going to celebrate graduation until after the revised graduation date at OctoberWest,” Ferrin said.
But attendance at the postponed graduation is questionable; many seniors don’t know how their new jobs will affect it. “I know that they moved the graduation to OctoberWest for Spring 2020 grads, and I am planning on attending that, if possible,” said Kyle, noting a common theme among most seniors. Graduation means the start of adult life and adult responsibilities; this might mean no time off from new jobs. There is also the possible inconvenience of working in another state or country.
As for how students feel about the postponement of graduation, feelings are mixed. Kyle said that “it’s definitely sad. I know that there are a lot of people who wanted to see me walk. I am the only engineer in my family, so for me, it was important. I do understand the situation, so I definitely think that they are trying to figure it out and handle it as best as they possibly can … I guess the fact that it has been postponed does make me feel a little bit better about what is happening …” This perfectly sums up what most seniors are probably feeling during this difficult time. Ferrin said that although “it was probably the right decision to make given the circumstances, that doesn’t really mean that I like it.”
Although there is a reason but no opportunity to celebrate at the end of the semester, Ferrin and Kyle are looking forward to new beginnings as they were already offered jobs. Ferrin is moving to LA to work at TicketMaster, and Kyle will be working as a systems engineer at Honeywell in Phoenix, Arizona. Hopefully, being offered a job will offset their disappointment in having to wait a bit longer until they get their graduation and they can celebrate their accomplishments.