Cal State LA students anticipate another virtual graduation

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This image was created by Camille Jessie through Canva using Sketchify elements.

Krysta Pae, Staff Reporter

Graduation for the Class of 2021 is just a few months away and soon-to-be Cal State LA graduates are uncertain about what the school will be doing to honor their achievements.

“My expectation for Cal State LA is that they do something more for the graduates, not just send [us] a diploma in the mail and be like, ‘Congratulations,’” said Quan Feng, a food science major, who is wrapping up his sixth and final year this semester.

Feng is one of 5,116 students that have filed to graduate for Spring and Summer 2021, according to the office of Institutional Effectiveness, and are looking forward to celebrating their hard work. However, with the end of the 2020-2021 academic year approaching, the University has yet to say what graduates can expect.

The Office of Communications and Public Affairs sent the UT a link to the updated Commencement page, which states, “Plans regarding Commencement will be made in consultation with public health experts and will adhere to their guidance. We will notify the Class of 2021 and update the Commencement website when our plans are finalized and approved.”

For last Spring’s Class of 2020 graduation, the University decided to opt for a recognition website in lieu of a traditional ceremony.

The recognition website consists of well-wishes videos for the graduates, downloadable CSULA graphics, and pages for each college with the graduates’ names and majors.

Blanca Banuelos, a senior, said she hopes for a better option that would be best: “A website is nice but my major is art and animation. If there’s a way to at least showcase one thing that each [graduate] did, like their capstone, I feel like that would be nice. To at least get that recognition.”

Other Cal State schools have found alternative ways to replace what would usually be a large ceremony. According to the Cal State Long Beach Commencement website, graduates from CSULB will have the option of driving across a vehicle stage to celebrate and are also now considering an in-person commencement.

On the other hand, Cal State Fullerton states on their commencement website that a virtual ceremony is in the works with a possibility of all Cal State Fullerton graduates gathering in one place to be honored.

Maria Cortez, an upcoming graduate, said she hopes for an in-person graduation. “I’m pretty sure they could do it if they actually made the effort and planned it. If they actually think about the procedures and follow the [CDC] guidelines. Of course, six feet apart and with masks. I think it’ll be fine,” she said.

Families of those graduating are also being considered when it comes to celebrating the Class of 2021. “For me… it’s not like, ‘Oh my gosh, I need a graduation [ceremony], to show I’m graduating,” said Banuelos, the arts and animation major. “But I know for others, it’s a big deal. They want to have their family there with them and for it to be special.”

Feng, the food science major, said his family plays a part in his graduation plans: “Since I’m going to be a first-generation college graduate, I’m sure they would want [me to] walk.”

It is uncertain when the University will announce official plans for the upcoming graduation. Until then, students like Feng continue to reflect on what will be done to acknowledge the work they have done in the previous years.
“I was looking forward to walking and doing this whole ceremony,” said Feng. “But [now] it just seems like graduation is just going to be another day.”