College students discuss new graduation procedures post COVID-19

Miami Dade College’s Spring 2021 graduation ceremony at Marlins Park. (Courtesy of Miami Dade College)

Miami Dade College and Florida International University students are expressing both relief and disappointment about their academic institutions’ procedures for graduation post COVID-19.

A graduation ceremony signifies the end of a journey that marks the beginning of a new chapter in a student’s life. It is a proud moment for students and their families. However, it is also a moment that many students did not get to traditionally celebrate due to COVID-19. 

According to the Miami Dade College website, the institution, for the first time ever, hosted three ceremonies at Marlins Park in May. The ceremonies were held with limited capacity. But only students, college trustees and select faculty and administrators were able to attend. Friends and family could not. 

Livar Lora is a Miami Dade College student who expects to graduate this December. 

“It’s a moment of accomplishment after putting in so much work,” she said. “It is validation for the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve endured to get my degree.”

Lora said her family is her biggest support system and the reason she continues to pursue her dream of becoming a nutritionist.

“I will be the first in my family to graduate with my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I want to make them proud.”

Lora is looking forward to her upcoming graduation and is optimistic about it despite the social distancing and safety measures following CDC guidelines.

“I can’t wait to walk across the stage,” said Lora. “I am ready to start my new chapter.”

According to the FIU website, the graduation ceremonies will be mixed and not college-specific and will take place over the span of three nights. The first two ceremonies will be held on Aug. 4 and 5 for undergraduate students. The final ceremony will be held on Aug. 6 for doctoral and master’s degree candidates. 

The number of guest tickets is still being determined. Students are prompted to check their emails by the end of June on the final guest ticket count.

Lauryn Lawrence, an FIU student who is preparing to graduate in August, said she is grateful that she was able to attend a physical graduation, but she is also worried about the number of tickets she will be given. 

“I have a grandmother that lives in Jamaica,” said Lawrence. “I am unsure if I will be able to invite her.”

Eszter Erdei, an FIU alumna who graduated April 24, said she chose not to attend her ceremony because she moved out of state in 2020 and did not want to spend unnecessary money and not get the full ceremonial experience.

“There was no shaking hands or stopping on stage to receive your degree,” said Erdei. “It took the feeling of celebration out of the experience.”

“Personally, it doesn’t feel real that I graduated,” said Erdei. “I never got to attend a real graduation ceremony.” 

 

Audriana Reid is an undergraduate student at Florida International University. Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Media and a minor in Psychology. She aspires to be an entertainment journalist and TV host.