Students are unsure about graduation ceremony plans

FAMU graduating students are unsure about graduation plans regarding familial attendance. Photo courtesy of

Three months away from graduation and with homecoming being in full effect, Florida A&M University graduating students are unsure what to expect for commencement in December.

The school’s website posted a statement under the commencement tab that reads: “FAMU’s Fall 2021 Commencement ceremony has been scheduled for Friday, December 10 at 6 p.m. EST. More information will be announced and posted soon.”

In Tallahassee, Florida State University and FAMU’S major events occur on the same weekend, namely home games, orientation and most importantly — graduation.

This causes heavy traffic, a spike in business and increased demand — and prices — for hotels and Airbnb rentals. Although more hotels have opened up in Tallahassee in recent years, the hassle remains the same.

Joycelyn Shores, a graduating Public Health major, comes from a huge family residing on both sides of the coast. She plans on inviting them to graduation from California and in-state.

“I am not sure of the protocols regarding graduation, but I am excited about it,” Shores said. “I figured it would be open to everyone because everything is open on campus with no social distancing measures being taken.”

Tony Ferguson, a Social Work student graduating this fall, wants to invite five people to graduation: his parents and three uncles. Although he plans on having a graduation dinner and a party to celebrate, his family being physically present to watch him walk across the stage is his top priority. He is worried about ticket restrictions and feels like they don’t make sense.

“Fall classes are way smaller than the previous graduating classes; Al Lawson fits over 9,000 people, there are more than enough seats for more families to come,” Ferguson said.

Commencement Chair Valencia Matthews, Ph.D., explained that there will only be 4 tickets given to students as of now, and it is unlikely that the quantity will change.

“We stay updated through the FAMU Info website and intend to keep students updated that way,” Matthews said.

FSU Fall 2021 graduation information is readily available through their website, while students are receiving 8 tickets each for the two ceremonies that Friday.

Shores feels disheartened that the most important event of the year is the one that the university is prohibiting many people from attending.

“You can come to homecoming any year, but you only graduate once,” Shores said.

While most students expected an open ceremony, Aisha Peguero, a graduating General Health Science major, planned on inviting only her mom and dad to graduation.

“I only expected that two tickets were going to be handed out, so I am happy to bring more family,” Peguero said. “I understand the price increase of hotels and the restrictions for graduation because many older family members may be in attendance and we need to be mindful of them.”

The ceremony will be available to view through a live stream on FAMU’s Facebook page.