WACO, Texas: Baylor University hosted its second consecutive virtual graduation Saturday, after originally trying to make a ceremony for their May graduates happen in August.
Even Baylor’s president, Dr. Linda Livingstone, acknowledged the disappointment graduating seniors must be feeling.
“Students, I know this graduation is bittersweet for many of you. On the one hand, you’ve done it, you’ve finally made it to graduation. You studied hard and put in long hours for this moment and you have so much to be proud of,” Livingstone said. “On the other hand, I know this isn’t how you expected this chapter of your Baylor story to end.”
In lieu of a ceremony at the Ferrell Center, the names of graduates were shown on the jumbotron at McLane Stadium instead.
The school did the same for May graduates like Brooke Hill, who still doesn’t know when she’ll walk the stage.
“I appreciate some effort as opposed to nothing,” Hill said. “It’s kind of cool because it came full circle for us because when we got accepted to Baylor, we got an email saying ‘Brooke, you’re accepted’ on the screen at McLane Stadium so it was kind of cool to have that parallel.”
It also hit Hill hard when she saw incoming freshmen getting gifts from the university after being unimpressed by the ones the graduating seniors got.
“They’re getting hammocks, mugs and all these, you know, tangible and exciting things,” Hill said. “They built this whole thing up about us getting a gift and we got it and it was a booklet, kind of like the booklet they give out on admission tours, filled with pictures that were not entirely of our class, they were like stock photos, and then a sticker.”
For some, like August graduate Rochak Khatri, who will be going to medical school in 2021, losing the in-person graduation ceremony wasn’t a huge deal.
“For me, I know I’m going back to more schooling,” Khatri said. “It’s a big deal but it’s not as big of a deal to have this entire ceremony and celebrate.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic cut the spring semester short, the university planned to combine the May and August graduations. Then, they even made a tentative ceremony for May graduates outdoors at McLane Stadium this month.
Even still, they’re giving graduates options.
“If you would like to attend an in-person commencement ceremony, all graduates who were initially scheduled to participate in either the May or August ceremonies are invited to participate in any future ceremony that fits your schedule,” Livingstone said during the ceremony.
It’s not an enticing offer for some.
“I don’t think I would walk the stage anytime soon,” Hill said. “We will have been adults and working in our own jobs and new lives for a whole year so I feel like it would feel really weird to come back at that point.”
Baylor’s next scheduled commencement is in May 2021.