For seniors, their last year is a time for celebration.
For most college students, commencement is the last hurrah where they gather in the place they’ve called home for the past four years to celebrate the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
But with the COVID-19 worldwide outbreak, that celebration has been put on pause for Saint Peter’s Class of 2020.
On Thursday, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs announced that this year’s May commencement would be postponed until an unknown later date in response to the pandemic.
It was the news many were expecting, but dreading to hear.
“It’s a bittersweet decision, but the correct one,” said Psychology major Maleek Welsh.
The university has been following state protocol and administrating online classes and employment for the remainder of the spring semester. Canceling all in-person interactions has meant no big celebrations or gatherings until further notice, putting a damper on the seniors’ last semester.
Criminal Justice major, Myah Warren believes the university has been handling the situation as best as possible, which is why when she heard the news about commencement she expressed more sadness rather than anger.
“I’m glad the school has acknowledged how much this commencement means to us,” said Warren. “It shows that we won’t be forgotten or we won’t go on as the class with no commencement.”
According to the Provost, the Office of Leadership and Engagement will try to plan for a Senior Week in the near future, if circumstance allows. However, that doesn’t apply to the many events seniors were looking forward to.
Communication major Brianna Lorenzana came into her senior year with the goal of making epic memories. Although she accomplished some, she leaves knowing she missed the opportunity to create more.
“I lost my club’s last and biggest event. I lost the final months in my dorm with my roommate. I lost my last Palooza. I didn’t even get to take my senior portrait,” said Lorenzana. “There are no words to describe what I feel, but devastated is the closest I can get.”
Although devastated, she hangs on to the hope for better days and to the opportunities she’s been fortunate to have, especially after the school’s dedication to giving the Class of 2020 a celebration.
Welsh is also holding on to peace. It’s his way of getting through it all.
“My mindset throughout all of this has been relatively calm and patient,” says Welsh. “I know that a sense of panic would not help the situation, only hinder the progress.”
But through the patience, there is still heartbreak, such as Sociology major Kambria Mallory expressed.
“To me, senior year was the finish line,” said Mallory. “You work hard your entire life and have everyone tell you that graduating college is the end goal. Now it kind of feels like you didn’t really accomplish anything.”
While some hold on to the hope of a future commencement, others are ready to move on from Saint Peter’s and from the pandemic that has affected them all.
“Honestly, I love my class, but after all of this, I want to start my life and move on,” said Michael Sparks who didn’t get to compete in his last track season after the cancellation of all spring sports. “You probably won’t see me at that celebration, but I think it would be good for everyone when this blows over.”
Staff writer Amanda Sanchez contributed to this story.