Santa Fe College upholds its plans to host a limited-capacity graduation ceremony in April despite lifting all COVID-19 restrictions.
Santa Fe lifted COVID-19 precautions related to serving food, onsite class size and event size across all SFC properties Monday. However, graduates will still be socially distanced at their April celebrations.
The Personalized Graduation Experience — SFC’s upcoming April 28 and April 29 ceremonies — will operate by allowing a new group of students and their guests into the Fine Arts Hall every 15 minutes. Once they enter, the graduates will hear their names announced, walk across the stage, take a photo and exit.
The college is taking these preventative measures in case a new variant arises in the next month, SFC spokesperson Jay Anderson said.
“We don’t want to have to promise something and then pull that back away,” Anderson said. “The last couple of years have been like one thing after another getting taken away from you.”
SFC will likely go back to a more traditional graduation ceremony in Fall 2022, but because the college already planned this year’s Personalized Graduation Ceremony, it will not change the structure, he said.
In Fall, SFC held an identical ceremony. Out of 1045 students who received their diplomas, 18% showed up to the Personalized Graduation Experience. This percentage is only slightly lower than the number of attendees SFC has had in their traditional graduation ceremonies, he said.
Because SFC was impressed with the feedback and turnout from the Fall 2021 graduates, the ]college decided to hold the same type of ceremony again and reassess in Fall 2022.
“They really seemed to take to it last time,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping for another positive experience for them.”
Santa Fe Student Body President Trevor Mathisen is graduating in Spring and describes the walk-through ceremony as bittersweet.
“To some degree, I’d say it’s almost better than a ceremony because from what I’ve noticed and from what students have told me, they say it’s a lot more personal,” Mathisen said,
But the intimacy of the ceremony comes at a price: Mathisen will be missing out on sharing his final moments as a Saint with all his friends at a big ceremony. Yet, if given a choice, he would still prefer the Personalized Graduation Ceremony.
“I’m not big on ceremonies, and I’m a very low-key person,” he said. “I just want my family to be there and just be able to get some pictures …but I know a lot of students have told me they’d prefer the ceremony.”
Reine Labaki, a SFC student ambassador, attended the Personalized Graduation Ceremony last Fall.
She wonders why SFC will hold a limited-capacity ceremony this Spring despite low case numbers but presumes it’s because the college is taking the pandemic seriously.
Nevertheless, she enjoyed the ceremony last year because it was laid-back. The celebration in Fall 2021 was also the first ceremony back on campus following SFC’s decision to host graduation virtually.
“I really enjoyed it because we actually got to see people finally, face-to-face,” Labaki said.
The Personalized Graduation Ceremony will take place on April 28 and 29 from noon until 5 p.m. in the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall. To participate, students must schedule an appointment by April 22.
Contact Lily Kino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lily_kino.
Lily is a third-year journalism major with a concentration in environmental science covering criminal justice for The Alligator. Last semester, she served as the Santa Fe reporter. When she's not writing, you can find Lily on a nature walk, eating Domino's Pizza or spending time with her friends.