Among recent changes at Missouri Western due to COVID-19, the unknown future of commencement has left seniors wondering how their final year will come to an end.
Currently the commencement ceremony is listed on Missouri Western’s website as canceled indefinitely. President Matthew Wilson and the commencement committee have been holding meetings to discuss possible alternatives for the graduating students. As of now, Wilson said the committee's main focus is finding a way to give the graduating students the send off from college that they deserve.
“More than anything, we want to make sure we're able to celebrate with those graduating this year,” Wilson said. “Talking about potential options is a big part of what we're doing right now. We're in waiting mode to see when this clears, and then we'll make a determination about the timing of commencement.”
Besides commencement plans, the registrar’s office is also hard at work coming up with a plan for the distribution of caps and gowns. Not wanting the tradition of decorating caps to end, the Griffon Yearbook is accepting submissions of designs on any cap-shaped object. For a chance to have a design featured in the yearbook, students can submit their creations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay Alford was among the seniors who had their last semester come to an abrupt end. Alford founded the Missouri Western Dance Company and was sad to miss the opportunity of passing down her title. She was also sad that her time in assistant professor of communication Jordan Atkinson's senior portfolio class had to be cut short.
Alford said that she understood the cancellation but did have some ideas for alternative options.
“It would be really cool if they did something at homecoming, where students that were supposed to graduate, which would then be alumni, could walk,” Alford said. “Then a pep rally, or something like that, where they could be recognized, or even something in the summer so everyone's family could come.”
Commencement was originally set to have taken place this May in Spratt Stadium. The cancellation of the event resulted in no financial losses for the college as all of the speakers and staff for the event consisted of Missouri Western personnel and students.
Geri Vermillion is a non-traditional student who was set to graduate this semester. Vermillion is majoring in population health management with a current internship at Community Action Partnership, a local service organization. After years of juggling college, work and taking care of her three kids, Vermillion said that an inconvenience like COVID-19 shouldn’t mean any permanent cancellations for commencement.
“I've worked my ass off for four years,” Vermillion said. “I'm gonna walk across the stage. I don't care if it's in a year.”
Like many other things going on in the world, the future remains unclear for commencement. However, one constant people can count on in these uncertain times is that Missouri Western’s graduates, commencement or not, will always be Griffons.