Seniors planning their own in-person graduation ceremonies


Courtesy of Austin Nordyke

Senior Austin Nordyke is planning his own in-person graduation ceremony with his roommates because WSU’s ceremony was moved online.

Senior Austin Nordyke was heading to his hometown for a three-day weekend when Wichita State announced that in-person classes were canceled for the rest of the semester.

“It really felt like . . . my senior year is, like, over kind of. I realize it’s not that way, but it felt that way,” Nordyke said.

“Everything kind of felt like it was coming to a halt basically. It was wild.”

His three-day weekend has turned into over a month at home.

Nordyke decided commencement being moved online wouldn’t stop him and his friends from celebrating their college graduation.

“One of my roommates said something like, ‘Well, what if they cancel graduation?’ and I’m like, ‘If they cancel graduation, we’re having our own graduation here.’” Nordyke said. “We’ll get some chairs in the backyard, we can make fake diplomas and hand them out, we can have a party all day long.

“We can’t let this get us down. We have to have fun with it still.”

Nordyke and his roommates put their heads together and gave everyone a role in their commencement ceremony. One friend who “knows everyone and can read everyone’s names” will hand out diplomas. Nordyke’s advisor is set to deliver a commencement speech.

While Nordyke acknowledged that the situation isn’t ideal, he said he’s enjoyed seeing other people around him embrace the opportunity to celebrate in their own unique ways.

“I’ve talked to one of my friends earlier . . . and she was like, ‘My friend’s mom was going to have us wear black trash bags and give us fake diplomas,’” Nordyke said. “Yes, I think that there is that idea of disbelief.

“But the creativity that’s come out of this and people being able to do different things has been really neat and exciting.”

WSU will hold a virtual commencement ceremony on May 16 and an in-person event for graduates in October. While Nordyke is planning his own celebration, he said he’s pleased with WSU’s decision to accommodate students.

“Obviously, I would love to be able to graduate in May still and walk like normal, but . . . to be able to do something virtually is really great,” he said.