Students open up about graduating… without the pomp and ceremony
Universities around the world responded to the pandemic by cancelling, postponing or hosting virtual graduation ceremonies.
We chat to five students from different South African universities who were preparing for their big graduation day before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown put an end to all the gowns and tassels.
Gabriele Jacobs, University of Cape Town
“To be honest, I was dreading the ceremony itself because I am nervous about going up on stage. However, my parents were really looking forward to it.
“At the moment, I am preoccupied with other things and am actually not that concerned about having a graduation ceremony.”
Thauheed Khan, Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal
“I am disappointed because of the sleepless nights and hard work I have put in over the past three years. My parents were both graduates, so this meant a lot to them to see me graduate as well.
“I would like to have a graduation ceremony if and when it’s safe for us to have one. But right now with the global pandemic, I don’t think it’s that essential to have one. Our government is taking the necessary steps to reduce the rate of infection and we need to support this as it’s for our own benefit.”
Zama Talent Ndlovu, University of Zululand
“Our graduation ceremony was actually postponed. I feel that a graduation ceremony is a place where our parents get to celebrate our academic achievements. It is important, but then again I don’t think it’s necessary, because of the financial strain that accompanies it.
“The stress it brings to us and our parents because of the amount of money that is spent, is actually just too much for one day of celebration.”
Eclatreasure Nsele, Durban University of Technology
“Personally, to me the ceremony isn’t that much of a big deal since there’s still so much work to do after graduating. Though, if it remains cancelled due to this global pandemic, that is just sad because I was looking forward to rejoicing once more with my classmates. Not forgetting that it would have been my family’s proudest moment as I took the stand and claimed what’s due to me.
“I think the graduation ceremony is necessary because we have to celebrate our achievements. The ceremony brings so much joy — not only to graduates. This is a moment any parent looks forward to.”
Shakil Solanki, University of Cape Town
“I am rather disappointed. The initial idea of graduation felt a little unnecessary to me.
“For fine art students (or myself at least), our graduate exhibitions at the end served as decent climaxes to our degrees — in the same way that I think a graduation ceremony would provide for most other courses.
“That said, it feels a little disheartening to have the opportunity of the ceremony taken away from us. I think, especially for graduates’ parents and their families, it is an important event. I’d be happy to attend mine if it were ever to be rescheduled.”