Spring graduates finally recognized after five month delay


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower.

Fine Arts grad Lilian Tay walks off stage after getting recognized at the Spring 2020 Commencement.

After a long five month delay, Wichita State’s Spring 2020 graduates finally had the opportunity to be celebrated during Saturday’s commencement celebration. 

But just like the class of 2020, the graduation was nothing short of unique. Each graduate was given only two tickets for guests and everyone had to sit three chairs apart to follow social distancing. 

Former Student Body President Kitrina Miller spoke at the ceremony.  She said that even though the commencement doesn’t feel the same as it would have in May, she hopes they can indulge in their achievements and celebrate their success.

“We are all trying to figure out what comes next … All I know is that in order to begin our adventure as we originally intended is that we must show compassion to ourselves and others,” Miller said.  “We must lean into the discomfort of our reality with empathy to learn and grow from the stories we hear … We must support one another to navigate this long, winding road, we call our adventure.”

Rick Muma, acting president of WSU said that the graduation marks the end of a life-long journey of learning, even in light of the delays that COVID-19 caused.

“While you may no longer be on campus, you will always be part of the Shocker’s family,” Muma said.

Many graduates said that the commencement was a great experience. 

“I believe it’s an unique experience getting to walk across the stage,” Fernando Roel Rodriguez, an aerospace engineering graduate, said. “I worked really hard these past couple of years to get this degree.”

“I think [WSU] handled it like they needed to,” Social work graduate Taren Patterson said. “I’ve graduated from here before, so I know how packed it is so making us susceptible to all of those things wouldn’t have been the responsible thing to do.” 

Lizeth Ortega, a graduate with a bachelor’s in political science and international studies, said that as a first generation student graduation is extra special for her.

“I think it’s really important to make an example to my younger siblings because I want them to follow my path so it’s a really proud moment for us and this ceremony means a lot,” Ortega said. 

WuShock made an appearance at the ceremony. The Spring 2020 Commencement was held on Oct. 10, 2020 after the initial event was cancelled due to COVID-19. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower.)

Industrial engineering graduate Thanushika Karunaratne said that as an international student, he was disappointed with how his graduation had to happen. 

“My parents were supposed to come here for the initial commencement and they had flights booked and everything so they had to cancel those,” Karunaratne said. “I was a little sad, but it’s ok because they are able to watch the livestream.”

Some students believed that the university could have done a better job celebrating their graduates. 

“I know it’s a scary time, but we’re doing now what we would’ve done back then so I feel like we should’ve just kept on with it,” Graduate Cheyenne McGuffey said. “We could’ve worn masks back then and had it when we were supposed to.”

Journalism graduate Kaisha Batman said that while she believes the university did what they had to do to keep students safe, she was still disappointed in the circumstances. 

“I’d looked forward to it since I was a freshman in college and not being able to walk at the normal time was really disappointing,” Batman said. “And even now that I’m here and ready to walk it doesn’t feel the same for sure.”

Juan Yanez Jr., a graduate with a masters in special education, said that he believes he deserves to be recognized for his achievements.

“It was very disheartening and disappointing at the time but I know we are going through some changes with COVID-19 and we have had to make sacrifices,” Yanez said. “I believe that I’ve made enough sacrifices and I deserve to be here.”