Will 2020 grads return to FAMU for in-person commencement?

Markeya Banks missed not having an in-person commencement last year. Photo by Larry Dula

Florida A&M University revealed that it will be hosting a special in-person ceremony this summer for alumni who didn’t have the privilege last year due to the pandemic.

The university announced there will be a series of six ceremonies to honor the achievements of the graduates who want the opportunity to walk across the stage. Next month marks the first scheduled in-person commencement ceremonies since December 2019.

“Last year, I was so devastated once I first discovered I would not be having an in-person graduation ceremony. Although I wanted people to be healthy and safe, I couldn’t help but feel like my big achievement was somehow lessened because I was unable to celebrate my accomplishment at my graduation ceremony like I always imagined,” FAMU alumna Markeya Banks said.

Calvin Sykes, a May 2020 graduate, shared his struggle with post-graduation depression in the midst of a pandemic.

“All a student wants to do is finally walk across that stage when they have earned their degree. I experienced post-grad depression much sooner than expected once I found out I would not be recognized with an in-person ceremony. Also, jobs began not to honor their offers and the world literally shut down before my eyes,” he said.

FAMU officials say they will continue to adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Board of Governors guidelines to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

“It’s great that FAMU is making an effort to provide an in-person graduation for those who weren’t able to walk last year. I believe it’s safe to do so as long as safety guidelines are met and masks are worn,” FAMU alumni Derrick Inabinett said.

While many graduates are thrilled about the news, some are questioning if it would be worth it to travel back to Tallahassee to attend a in-person ceremony in the peak of summer.

“Although that moment meant a lot to my family to witness me graduate in-person, I would not be interested in attending any summer ceremonies. It just wouldn’t have the same impact as a normal graduation pre-COVID would, in my opinion,” Inabinett said.

“I would be open to the opportunity to attend the summer graduation ceremony for my family’s sake only. There are important people in my life, like my grandparents and parents who would like to see my huge achievement celebrated in-person,” Banks said.

At this time, no dates or times have been announced regarding the in-person ceremonies for 2020 graduates.