Commencement is a time for celebration when Pacific students take their final step into the real world, and leave behind memories that they will cherish forever.
President Lesley Hallick announced via email on February 24 that the ceremony will not be in person due to COVID-19, for the purpose of protecting students and their families; even if Washington County is in the moderate risk category and continues to be on a hopeful trajectory. The class of 2021 will still have their opportunity to walk the stage and receive their degrees, but without an audience.
“We will schedule small groups by major and we will give the students a chance to be able to walk across the stage, wear their regalia, and pick up their diploma cover,” said Sarah Phillips, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Pacific is currently working on how to livestream the walk so the graduating students’ friends and family can watch from the safety of their home. They are also not allowed to have all faculty and staff members on the scene as it would exceed COVID-19 guidelines. The faculty and staff will provide a professional photographer on site to take pictures of the students in their regalia. For students who are off campus and are at high risk of contracting the virus, the school will send out a “selfie kit” which contains materials for taking their own photo from home and upload their picture to campus to put in the virtual commencement ceremony which will begin on May 15th, 2021.
For the graduating class of 2021, many seniors are understanding of the situation and many others are simply disappointed as they won’t be able to get the real feeling of college graduation.
“It’s a half and half feeling for me but others who wanted to have an in-person commencement are feeling down right now,” said senior Christian Agullana. Agullana plans on doing a free semester here to complete his degree in exercise science and go on to graduate school to work in physical therapy. He is a golfer here at Pacific and did not expect his last year to end like this but is still grateful he is here to finish his athletic career with his teammates as well as his college experience regardless of the circumstances he and all other students are in.
“I was definitely really bummed but also was not expecting for it to be in person because we’re definitely not in a good position to hold one right now, but what can we do,” said senior Jordan Zweifel.
Zweifel is a volleyball player here at Pacific studying math and plans on becoming a high school teacher after getting her master’s degree in the future. Pacific University aches for the graduating students, and want nothing more than to be able to give them an experience that they rightfully deserve even if things have to change to be able to keep others safe during this time. — Rush Williams
Photo: Commencement will take place virtually again this year, inciting mixed reactions from graduating students. (Spencer Hills)