In-person commencement leaves graduating seniors jazzed


Chelsea Jeffers

Chico State graduates patiently sitting through the ceremony and eagerly waiting to finally hold their diploma in their hands. Photo credit: Chelsea Jeffers

Graduation ties a college experience together. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When Chico State announced plans for in-person commencement to honor the classes of 2020 and 2021, graduating Wildcats expressed mixed emotions: excitement, shock and anger. 

“Chico State will hold multiple in-person Commencement ceremonies to honor its graduating classes of 2020 and 2021,” media relations coordinator Sean Murphy wrote in a press release. “The ceremonies for the Class of 2020 will take place at University Stadium on May 16, 2021. Ceremonies for the Class of 2021 will take place May 20–23, 2021.” 

The university will not make additional staff or facilities available for the celebration and  parents will not be allowed to attend. 

“I think it’s a great and natural step for the university, considering the recent developments regarding COVID and lockdown measures” said graduating senior, Miguel Manzano Bishop. “I know some students are upset that they can’t bring their family and loved ones to commencement, but it’s also worth considering the amount of people that normally brings into town and the health risk that imposes on them, but with the local community. All in all, it’s an appropriate action and decision by the university.” 

With people steadily getting vaccinated, some graduating Wildcats support the university’s decision.

“It’s tough that we can’t bring loved ones along, but at the same time I completely understand the university’s decision to only allow graduates,” said Angel Ortega, a graduating senior and former Orionite. “I honestly lost hope that we would get a ceremony at one point, but now I’m eager to participate, especially since I got my two vaccines.”

Daniel Ortiz is a first-generation student who spent four years at Butte College and two at Chico State. The thought of a grand commencement encouraged him to work hard.

 “I was beginning to feel very burnt out, my motivation was lacking significantly, but when we received the email about our in-person ceremony my motivation spiked up to a new level,” Ortiz said. “It’s hard to sit in front of a computer to get through six classes, but now I am truly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s bright! I’m thankful Chico State is doing everything possible to give us a ceremony that is as ‘normal’ or traditional as can be and still abides COVID-19 guidelines.”

Graduating senior Kelli Christenson is grateful for the university’s plans to hold an in-person commencement to celebrate the Class of 2020 and 2021.

“I think an in-person commencement is a great opportunity for our community to come together and recognize those who have worked incredibly hard for their degree! Whether it took someone three years or even 10 years to get their bachelors degree, I think we all deserve to be recognized and celebrated for this amazing accomplishment,” Christenson said. “Of course I am bummed that my family will not be able to sit on the graduation, but I still think that as a community the least we can do is give our seniors a graduation.”

Not all students share that excitement. 

“Doing it virtually would probably not be impactful,” graduating senior Emily Jenkin-Moses said. “However, it’s not achievable or attractive for people outside of the Chico area. I don’t want to drive 4-5 hours to Chico, just so I can walk across the stage while my family is hours away watching virtually. I would rather participate virtually and be with them.”

Melvin Bui can be reached at [email protected] or @Melvinbuii on Twitter.