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First-Gen Thoughts: Will 2020 seniors get to properly celebrate their graduation?

Since the beginning of the pandemic when Ohio University’s classes were moved online, I have woken up every day afraid to check my email inbox, thinking there will be an email from the university about commencement being canceled or made virtual.

Any time the university sends out a press release, I get the same pang in my gut.

I know a lot of people might brush off commencement as just walking to grab your diploma and waiting hours to watch other people do the same thing. But I am a first-generation college student, and my parents have struggled these last four years (and will continue to because of the financial setback) to get me to where I am today.

I think I owe it to them to be able to walk, even if it’s not any time soon because of the pandemic, but at least whenever I can.

The 1970 class was able to walk in 2010, and while that was a 40-year difference, I’d be willing to wait if that meant I was able to celebrate my achievements in person with my family and friends.

The rug has already been yanked out from underneath me and so many other students. 

The Ohio State University, among other universities around the country, have already confirmed virtual commencements. Obviously it is better than nothing, but universities should not be jumping so far ahead to make plans like that, especially when families might have planned already to come together to celebrate their student’s achievements. 

There has been talk from faculty about trying their hardest to keep from going that route, but I’m still scared. I’ve spoken to professors and asked if they’ve heard anything, and they agree that they are unsure about the university’s plans as well. 

Even if the university decided to postpone graduation to a later date, the campus and city of Athens would greatly reap its benefits. 

Hotels, restaurants and shops will receive the attention they deserve, especially during these hardships they’re all facing. Due to the uncertainty of commencement, families have canceled their reservations, income that local businesses were expected to gain that will be no more. 

With all that has happened in the last month, being able to come back to Athens and walking up the stage and receive my diploma with my class would make this situation better, especially for a senior who is just trying to celebrate their accomplishments and make their family proud – in person. 

Taylor Johnston is a senior studying journalism and visual communication at Ohio University and is the digital managing editor of The Post. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Taylor know by tweeting her @TF_Johnston.   

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