Graduating seniors long for a traditional commencement ceremony

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The fall semester at Florida A&M University consisted of remote learning for most students. For some seniors this was their last semester and they have been forced to have a virtual graduation ceremony.

Senior pre-physical therapy student Najah Harvey used one word to describe her last semester: stressful.

“Graduating is a great accomplishment and also relieving at the same time to know that all the hard work, stress, and tears that you have put in for the last four years are finally leading up to this moment,” Harvey said. “With that, the last semester brings on the stress about what to do further in life and how to pursue the next chapter in life whether it be grad school or a job. Furthermore, with the pandemic, this semester puts added stress onto things because you cannot have fun and do graduation things like walking across the stage.”

Although Harvey has had a stressful semester, she still believes that FAMU has prepared her for what’s to come next.

“FAMU has instilled values in me that will help me network and further my career in whatever field I choose to pursue,” Harvey said. “FAMU has also set me up for grad school and given me the support I need to apply to programs whether it be resources and material or just encouraging words. FAMU made and molded me into the woman I am today. I can confidently go into any workplace or graduate program knowing that I was given the right material and knowledge to move forward.”

After graduation Harvey plans to attend an accredited doctor of physical therapy program and obtain her doctoral degree.

“Currently, the physical therapy field lacks diversity,” Harvey said. “About 4% of practicing physical therapists are African-American and less than 1% have been admitted into DPT programs over the past decade. This is a cause for concern because the field needs to reflect the society we live in today and that’s why I plan to pursue a degree in this field, to show representation and encourage others to pursue this career.”

Senior psychology student Tiasia Jackson also had a difficult time navigating through her last semester.

“My last semester was very challenging at first due to everything being switched online,” Jackson said. “I didn’t have any classes on campus so I decided to move back home to save money. Overall I was transparent and honest about everything with my professors during this pandemic.”

Jackson was looking forward to having a traditional graduation ceremony.

“I’m not that excited about graduation because I wanted to walk the stage,” Jackson said. “I am the first sibling to walk the stage and first generation graduate so I was looking forward to it.”

Senior interdisciplinary studies major Tyshira Baker is excited to be done with her undergraduate studies.

I am not prepared for grad school mentally or physically,” Baker said. I need a break from school.”

Baker is happy to be done but still wanted a traditional graduation.

I remember being a freshman and seeing people take their pictures, attend the graduation ceremony, and just see how happy they were so I always looked forward to graduation,” Baker said. Due to COVID taking the excitement from me graduating I am still happy I finished but I wish it could have gone how it was supposed to go.”

After graduation, Baker plans to become an entrepreneur and prepare for the next chapter in her life.