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OPINION: Is in-person graduation a light at the end of the tunnel?

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An in-person graduation signals the light at the end of the very long pandemic tunnel for students at the University of Arizona.

"Old Main-University of Arizona" by L Geoffroy/Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On March 8, 2021, President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced his plans for an in-person commencement ceremony. This ceremony would take place from May 11 to May 18 in smaller groups of about 1,000 students to ensure the safety of all graduates. Each graduate is allowed to bring four guests to the event, and the event will be streamed online for everyone else. 

While this event might pale in comparison to the festivities for prior graduations, in-person graduation is a big step towards normal. College graduation is a very important milestone in one’s life. Graduation marks a time where students are being celebrated for their major accomplishments throughout their years at the University of Arizona, and being able to still celebrate this in person next to their peers after the past year everyone has been through is amazing. 

RELATED: University status update: UA commencement ceremonies to allow guests, slight increase in transmission

Not only have the seniors this year made it through their classes at school, but they have also made it through a pandemic. If we look back at where we were last year during graduation, with a solely online ceremony during the worst of COVID-19, we can see that it has only gone uphill from that. An in-person graduation ceremony is helping me remain very optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

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While the seniors leave us this spring, in-person graduation can serve as a very good sign for the students who still have time left at the UA. Students signed up for in-person classes for next year, sports, such as baseball and football, now have audiences, thousands are getting vaccinated every day at the university POD, and in-person events are happening on campus. The campus is looking to fully open up by the time we start classes in the fall. We are one step closer to a post-pandemic normal at the UA, making our experiences at the university that much better. The patience everyone has had throughout the past year is paying off in big ways. 

A pandemic was in no one’s plans for their four years at school, but we have persevered through it well enough to almost make it to the end. Gradual changes such as in-person graduation are glimpses into the life we had before the virus took over our lives. Slowly but surely, the University of Arizona that we all chose to go to for its lively atmosphere will be back, and I am truly excited. 


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Payton Toomey (she/her) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and information sciences and esociety. She loves to cook and golf in her free time. 


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/21)
993 29 2.9%
Total (8/2)
23,557 463 2.0%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 21, 2021