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Texas Southern University Seniors Graduating Through Quarantine

Written by on May 9, 2020

By: Chandrelle Lazard

HOUSTON—Despite the decision to cancel the commencement ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Southern University held a virtual commencement May 9, 2020 in replacement to celebrate the graduating seniors.

The university made the decision to cancel the commencement and reschedule the ceremony in the best interest of the health and well-being of all who planned to attend the event.

TSU students and their families were able to access a link to the video through on the university’s website or through the school’s social media accounts—YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The video consisted of messages from Interim President Kenneth Huewitt, Provost Dr. Kendall Harris and the Deans of each TSU college expressing their praises to seniors graduating during quarantine. 

Graduating senior Swanye Smith, remained  positive although his commencement ceremony didn’t go as expected.

“I look at the brighter side of the sunshine. I am still graduating,” Smith said. “It would have been joyful to walk during the traditional ceremonial day, but I still will walk across the stage, turn my tassel and enjoy the day I walk with all my classmates. It will be a wonderful time.”

Smith and others will get to walk at a later scheduled Commencement ceremony on August 8 at the Health and Physical Education  (H&PE) Arena, if the date is in compliance with the local, state, and national order.

In addition to TSU celebrating his accomplishment, Smith has personal plans to celebrate this milestone in his life.

“To commemorate the moment, oh I am turning so far up. I actually plan on doing the family thing, take a getaway trip to clear my mind and meditate, however, once we get back to living our best life, it’s going to be a party,” Smith said.

Graduating senior Morgan Wright made plans to celebrate the moment in style, however Wright had to settle with an in-home celebration due to the virus.

“I expected to go with my friends and family to find a cute outfit and have my hair and makeup professionally done,” Wright said. “This is a big accomplishment in my life but instead I watch from a tv screen in my pajamas as my name passes the screen like hundreds of others.” 

Wright sheds light on how this moment not only affected her, but her family as well.

“It’s really upsetting for my parents not being able to experience this moment that they invested so much into; it’s devastating,” Wright said. “Graduating with the fall or winter class would be nice to do but in the same breath it’s not the same.”

Graduating Senior Prince Gecko feels robbed of his achievement after four hard years.

“I didn’t get to feel the emotions I would feel if it was in person and I didnt get to celebrate with my family and friends,” Geeko said.

While the celebration didn’t go as planned for many TSU seniors, Smith feels the university is compensating for the tradition ceremony seniors missed out on.

“The online virtual ceremony is respected. We are not the only ones affected, so I appreciate the little things, especially at this point in life we should all be grateful and appreciative of being alive to be graduating. A lot of people lost their lives and family members behind the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smith said.

If the possibilities of the August date becomes unlikely, the next alternative date would be TSU’s traditional Winter Commencement ceremony in December 2020.