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Miami seniors look forward to upcoming graduation ceremony

With less than four weeks until graduation, Miami University seniors and administrators have shown anticipation for the forthcoming commencement ceremony.

The 2022 spring commencement, taking place on May 14 and 15, will be the first in-person, maskless and non-socially-distanced ceremony since 2019.

Miami’s President Gregory Crawford shared his enthusiasm for the ceremony in an email to The Miami Student.

“We are thrilled to be able to have a more normal commencement ceremony for this class, which has powered through the pandemic,” Crawford wrote. “These soon-to-be graduates showed amazing flexibility and adaptability in the past two years.”

Avery Clark, a senior strategic communication major, said it’s almost unbelievable how close she is to the graduation ceremony.

“It’s like a month away already,” Clark said. “It doesn’t feel real. It probably won’t feel real until it actually happens … but I’m very excited. It’s very exciting that Miami's moving in a positive direction with this pandemic.”

Mindy Clark, Avery’s mother, is also excited for the upcoming commencement and intends to share the joy with other members of the family.

“I’m ecstatic, I cannot wait,” Mindy said. “Her dad and her sister are coming, and myself.”

Last year, the commencement ceremony involved the necessary measures against COVID-19. Each graduate was permitted a maximum of six guests, who would be placed in socially distanced “pods.” Masks were required, as was social distancing, and virtual attendance was an option.

This year, Esha Kallam, a senior statistics and analytics co-major, said she’s glad the ceremony won’t have any COVID-19 restrictions.

“I would have been a little annoyed that not only would my senior year have gotten ruined by COVID restrictions … but I also wouldn’t have gotten a regular graduation but a ‘COVID graduation,’” Kallam said.

While the past two years have seen students sent home before taking classes primarily online for the 2020/2021 school year, Kallam said she’s excited that her last year of college has been relatively normal.

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Rajershaker Kallam, Esha’s father, plans to attend the ceremony with the rest of their family. He recalls attending the high school graduation of Eshas brother in 2020, when the pandemic started.

“It was just one thing at a time — social distancing with masks and everything,” Rajershaker said.

Commencement preparation has undergone several changes this year, including moving the master’s awards ceremony outdoors and adjusting the main ceremony’s starting time to 10:30 a.m.

Jessica Rivinius, senior director of news and communications at Miami, wrote in an email to The Miami Student that there has been steady increases in graduation rates during the past few years. 

“Our graduation rates have continued to increase,” Rivinius wrote. “Our retention rate increased in the first year of the pandemic, as well. Obviously, this is a leading indicator of future graduation rates.”

Cameron Kozlay, a senior sport leadership and management major, said he’s been looking forward to the ceremony and also the post-graduation adventure.

“I’ve been looking forward to moving on to the post-graduation part of my life,” Kozlay said, “I’m really excited to see all of us in caps and gowns.”

Monet Cavanaugh, a fifth-year strategic communication major, said that after taking an extra year, she’s ready to celebrate her commencement this May.

Although she didn’t have a preference for social distancing or not, Cavanaugh said not having a mask mandate would be a plus.

“Being maskless will be nice considering we’ll be sitting in the sun for the ceremony,” Cavanaugh said. “So if it’s hot, that’ll be a nice bonus for it.”

Beginning on Saturday, May 14, the commencement ceremony will span over two days, with Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Sharon Bannister, an alumna of Miami’s class of 1988, as the speaker.