Southeast holds belated commencement ceremonies for spring, summer graduates

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
A Southeast Missouri State University graduate gives an air high-five to someone in the audience after closing remarks at Southeast’s commencement ceremony for spring and summer 2020 graduates Saturday at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.
Brooke Holford/SE Missourian

More than 1,600 spring and summer graduates from Southeast Missouri State University finally got the chance to put on their caps and gowns, and walk across the stage this past weekend.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremonies for spring and summer graduates were pushed back to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Show Me Center. The fall 2020 ceremony was also moved up to Nov. 21.

In addition to moving the dates, face coverings were required for all in attendance, and some of the efforts to ensure social distancing at commencement included spacing out the chairs between graduates and assigned seating for guests.

Holly Lynn, a 34-year-old with two children who was supposed to graduate with a master’s degree in May, said as a first generation college student, it was important to both her and her parents to be able to attend the commencement ceremony.

“It was a bit of a heartbreak whenever they officially announced [commencement] was canceled, even though I knew that, ultimately, it was going to happen,” Lynn said. “I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college, and to graduate with a master’s degree, so it’s been wonderful not only for me, but for my parents — who worked so hard their entire lives to help get me here.”

Jordan Bates, a 37-year-old with two children who also was supposed to graduate with a master’s degree in May, said he feels like being able to have the ceremony hits a little different from previous years when there wasn’t a global pandemic.

“Before, it would have just been, ‘Yay, we made it! Time to celebrate!’ whereas now it’s, ‘Yay, we made it! We actually get to celebrate it because things are somewhat under control enough [with COVID-19] to where we can actually start gathering again!’” Bates said.

Lisa Bertrand, professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle and Secondary Education, delivered the 10 a.m. address and Peter Gordon, professor in the Department of Marketing, delivered the 2 p.m. address.

Bates and Lynn, who met each other while earning their bachelor’s degrees at Southeast, graduated in the 2 p.m. ceremony and said they felt Gordon gave a “very personable and relatable” address.

“I liked how he related what he was telling us back to his experiences and the things he learned and took away from his time as a student at Southeast,” Lynn said. “When he was speaking, I just kept thinking, ‘OK, yeah, I can see how this pertains to my life and my plans,’ and I think it was a really good message to hear.”

The morning ceremony recognized graduation candidates in the College of Education, Health and Human Studies, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; the afternoon ceremony recognized graduation candidates in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Harrison College of Business and Computing, and the Holland College of Arts and Media.

The Fall 2020 commencement ceremony, originally scheduled for Dec. 19, was moved up to Nov. 21 and will celebrate 700 graduating students.

Ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — with colleges being scheduled at the same time and format as Saturday’s ceremonies — at the Show Me Center; the same preventative measures for COVID-19 will also be taken.

To accommodate capacity limitations and meet the needs of family and friends who cannot attend in person, all ceremonies are livestreamed. To access the link for the livestream, visit www.semo.edu/commencement.

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