Graduation in the Midst of Coronavirus

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If you would’ve asked Penn State seniors what they were most excited about two weeks ago, they’d probably tell you their graduation in May. However, with the coronavirus and Penn State’s announcement that the rest of the spring semester is online, seniors are wondering what their commencement is going to look like. 

Initially, the commencements were supposed to take place from May 8 to May 10 of this year to account for each college within Penn State. But since the rest of the spring semester is via Zoom now, whether or not there is going to be a commencement is very blurry. With this suspension of in-person lectures, the entertainment aspect of Penn State has also shut down.

Events like Blue and White weekend, spring sports, Greek life, March Madness, student-run organized activities and many things that make Penn State, Penn State are no longer happening.

The buzz about what will happen with graduation also goes hand-in-hand with what was said in the press release by Vice President of Student Affairs, Damon Sims. He stated that Penn State might not let their students living in on-campus housing move out until at least May. This is concerning to hopeful seniors as their chances of getting a timely and in-person graduation have dramatically decreased.

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Many seniors are upset that they didn’t get to truly say goodbye to Penn State and the longtime friends they have made over the years. Jenny Laffey, a senior rehabilitation and human services major who was supposed to be graduating this May, feels as though she didn’t get to have her “lasts” at Penn State.

“I’m upset that there’s a bunch of ‘lasts’ I won’t get to do like the crucial last blue and white game or precious time going to Mad Mex to get margaritas with my friends,” says Laffey. “Little stuff like that you took advantage of and just never thought about ending.”

Abby Fortin, VALLEY’s own Web Director and a third-year student graduating early, is nervous about graduation being postponed.

“Since graduation is postponed, I think the worst-case scenario for me would be that they hold it at a time in the future that I’m unable to attend,” says Fortin.

Along with the abrupt end of the semester, seniors are curious about how they will receive their diploma as Penn State hasn’t sent out any indication that they have created a plan for that yet.

“I’m hoping that they can at least postpone it to some point in the summer,” says Laffey.

Currently, there have been two Penn State students confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the Centre Daily Times, both students were recently abroad, and they did not return to campus after being diagnosed. It isn’t known if they attended the University Park campus or a branch campus, but it was stated that one of the students with the virus is still currently abroad as of March 19.

While this time is super unpredictable and scary, it is essential to practice safe habits. Stay home if you’re sick and stay home even if you aren’t. Most of all, cherish the time you have with your family or those you’re quarantined with.

VALLEY sends our best regards to those who were scheduled to graduate in May, and we encourage you all to stay hopeful and healthy through these tough times.

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