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The Virtual Graduation Phenomenon


Image taken from one37pm.com

On May 15, I was supposed to walk across the stage at my college. Diploma in hand, this is the day I have been waiting for years for. All of my schooling career has built up to this moment… only for it not to happen. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has been ravaging the entirety of the world, graduations for high school, college, masters and doctorates have been cancelled or postponed. While I admit that I am lucky that my school is choosing postponed graduation (for an unknown date), that is not the case for many. However, all is not lost for graduates as many companies and public figures are putting on their own graduations for those seniors who do not have the opportunity themselves.

Barack Obama is set to give a commencement speech on television to the Class of 2020 during an hour-long event on Saturday, May 16th at 8:00 p.m. titled “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020.” It will air on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC along with over 20 other platforms streaming. The event will feature celebrities such as LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, Ben Platt, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, and a whole plethora of other beloved guests. The speech will have Obama reflect on the disruption of school and life itself. And while the ceremony is dedicated to those high schoolers, it is obviously open to graduates of all degrees.

YouTube plans on putting together a graduation ceremony on June 6th also featuring the former President and First Lady providing commencement speeches. The titular special, known as “Dear Class of 2020,” will include performances from singers/groups such as BTS and Lady Gaga. There will be a wide variety of commencement speeches from other notable speakers such as former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. YouTube also plans on broadcasting a variety of graduation events beginning on May 17th.

Chase Bank also put on a sort of virtual graduation titled: “Show Me Your Walk” on May 2nd. The event featured celebrities such as Kevin Hart, Serena Williams and Steph Curry to congratulate all graduates, giving commencement speeches to graduates everywhere. Chase recognizes that the achievements of the graduates are being undermined and even blatantly forgotten due to the pandemic. The major bank wants students’ achievements to be noticed. While I find it admirable that celebrities are coming together for this event, I do have an issue with the advertizing for the event. The advertisements include celebrities videos showing off their walk. While this is meant to be a sign of endearment, I find it almost heartbreaking as a senior myself because that special moment is no longer available to me and others. While they want us seniors to show off our walk, it is not the same and will never be the same.

And while I have some negative thoughts about this Chase Bank graduation special, this is not to discount the special in the slightest. The fact that celebrities and major figure heads are coming together to honor those graduates who had their final moments at school ended early, who were forced to give up prom, graduation, or any senior events, gives me hope for humanity. The pandemic has devastated all our lives, yet people are able to come together at the most emotional moments to support one another.

To the Class of 2020, this one's for you!