Students who were expecting to leave FAU without an in-person commencement will now be able to attend one of two ceremonies at the end of the semester.
President John Kelly wrote in an email to students on Tuesday that “as the public health situation related to the coronavirus eases locally, and following guidance from the State University System of Florida Board of Governors, we are planning to host in-person commencement ceremonies for our Spring 2021 graduates.”
FAU will host two outdoor ceremonies at the FAU Stadium on Thursday, April 29, at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held in FAU Stadium and will be streamed via the school’s website. Only students who are graduating this semester are allowed to attend.
The last in-person commencement was held in December 2019; since then, the ceremonies have been virtual and pre-recorded for streaming. Spring 2021 graduates will receive the first physical ceremony in over a year.
The idea of trading in a handshake for an elbow bump with the President has Senior Naya Diaz feeling conflicted.
“On one hand, I’m sad for those who missed this opportunity last spring,” said Diaz, “On another, I’m excited to have the experience I’ve always looked forward to, of walking [across] the stage and seeing proud faces on my family and friends.”
There are no finalized plans to host ceremonies for spring, summer, and fall 2020 graduates, but the university hopes to provide an update in the upcoming fall semester.
The grand return of graduation halfway through the semester leaves students who already made alternative plans, like graduating psychology major Te’Airah Wilbert in a tough spot.
“I know I should be excited,” said Wilbert, “but COVID has drawn me so close to my family that I was okay with having my own personalized graduation.”
Regardless of the last-minute change of course, Wilbert says she will be shifting her plans to attend the FAU ceremony.
“I am a first-gen student, so I’m walking across the stage for my parents,” said Wilbert.
International Business major Kelsea Coles thinks the return to in-person ceremonies also provides a signal of hope for others.
“I’m ecstatic that graduation is back on, that means Fall 2021 graduation will probably be on as well. As long as everyone follows COVID protocol and health regulations, I think it’s a tremendous idea,” said Coles.
The university has not yet provided direct communication to graduating seniors regarding cap and gown attire, but graduates who wish to buy regalia can do so on the Office of the Registrar’s graduation page. Currently, the only option for shipping is to your home.