‘Zooming’ to graduation

A personal essay about our need to celebrate, even if it’s online for now


Darwin Lopez celebrates his graduation with his mother, Silvia Martinez, and his sister, Katherine Lopez. (Darwin Lopez/UT)

Darwin Lopez, Community News Editor

If you told me when I was a freshman in 2015 that my graduation might be canceled and classes would be on Zoom, I probably would have said “Oh well.”

Graduation, to me, was expensive, and frankly, I thought, “How many of the graduates would I really know, anyway?”

 In my mind at the time, I would rather save that money up for a trip.

Five years and a different major later, the news broke out: The infamous coronavirus has pushed back Cal State LA’s graduation ceremony.

My reaction was not, “Oh well,” but “Oh…” (Let’s say it was R-rated language.)

I now realize that this doesn’t just affect me, but it affects my family.

Graduation is not something just for myself, but it was for all the people who supported me and my classmates  who relate to the struggle of getting there. 

Students who stayed up very late  — or I should say, very early, because it was often the morning of the next day when they were done studying.

Students whose long-forgotten-now-remembered assignments led to printer runs before class.

Students scraped together payments for parking permits that seem to get more expensive every year.

Students who joined the 3 p.m. rush hour line out the door at El Pollo Loco on campus.

Students whose hearts and bodies would be warmed by the coffee brought to them by a friend.

Students who work night shifts and would snuggle in blankets in their cars and nap between classes — or students like me who went to the third floor of the library to sleep.

It was a hectic schedule: Tough at times but also comforting in its familiarity.

That is now gone and so, too, is the prospect of all of us — all 7,200-plus of us who are eligible to graduate — walking down the aisles at our graduation and throwing our caps in the air together. For some, that moment will now be lost because we’ll be out of state or busy with our new jobs and the next phase of our lives.

Those of us who plan to be there when the new date is set are thankful for a final shared experience.

Regardless of how many people you got to know or whether you’re sitting close enough to your friends at the ceremony, we, as graduating students, relate to each other. I look forward to the feeling of being surrounded by so many dedicated individuals who have accomplished one of life’s biggest merits.

I think it is still important to celebrate each others’ accomplishments, and still feel the excitement of the ceremony.

Until then, let’s connect with each other on social media and congratulate each other.

We now know how to Zoom, so that’s another way to spread love and encouragement.

I think it is important to understand that we are a special group at a historic time for the world. We are persistent enough to not let the coronavirus stop us from graduating.

Congratulations class of 2020! In the words of Sean Evans and Paul Rudd in the hit TV show, “Hot Ones,” (and now a meme):

“Hey. Look at Us.”  (Rudd)

“Who would’ve thought.” (Evans)

“Not me.” (Rudd)

Community News reporters are enrolled in JOUR 3910 – University Times. They produce stories about under-covered neighborhoods and small cities on the Eastside and South Los Angeles. Please email feedback, corrections and story tips to [email protected]