Leaving school one day is something that everybody looks forward to – after all, the arrival of that day when you don’t ever have to go to another class, listen to another lecture, prerecorded or live, or do another test is usually awaited with a great deal of anticipation. 

Usually graduation day is commemorated with a party and much fanfare. It is a milestone that leads to new beginnings and official adulthood. It was a major moment, to be shared between friends and family – but COVID changed that. No one needs to be told that the new “normal” has impacted the way we do everything, and graduation rites have not been spared.

Many 2020 UNB graduates are not happy with the way graduation ceremonies were conducted this year. COVID protocols and guidelines have apparently taken away all the shine from what used to be a high point in every undergraduate’s life.

In the words of Evrad Nguimfack, a 2020 graduate, “graduation is a memory I’ll never have.” The young man certainly wishes that the milestone could have been commemorated with a ceremony that facilitated actual participation of the graduating students.

“They promised us some face to face ceremony,” Nguimfack states, “but when the time came, they went back on that promise and had an online ceremony.” 

He, however, adds that he understands that the need to protect public health prompted the recourse to an online event, but that understanding doesn’t mean that the disappointment wasn’t just as keenly felt. Some students may not have minded the online ceremonies as much, as they were able to celebrate within their own bubble, so at least for this upcoming year’s graduates there is the possibility that perspective can give graduation some of its magic back.

The ceremony could have been better done via Zoom or Microsoft teams. An interactive quality would probably have helped graduating students feel a sense of connection with the actual ceremony. The opportunity to dress up in the traditional graduation robes they had worked so hard to earn would also have heightened this sense of connection. 

Hopefully, however, the 2020 ceremony will be the first and last online graduation ceremony at UNB.