What was supposed to be a new beginning now feels like a cliffhanger, said Hali Reeves, a graduating UF senior.
Reeves, a 22-year-old graphic design major, is one of many who make up the class of 2020, none of whom received a traditional commencement ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since closures started in March, we didn’t get to savor a lot of our last memories,” Reeves said. “We’re ending this chapter of our lives without being able to begin the next one.”
Her Campus is an online magazine catering content to college women around the world with chapters at over 300 colleges globally — including UF. To inspire and console the class of 2020, Her Campus created #ImStillGraduating, a virtual commencement ceremony that will take place Friday at noon on the event’s website.
Cara Chiaramonte, community director of Her Campus Media, is responsible for leading the programming of the event and is a 2014 UF journalism graduate. She was a part of UF’s Her Campus chapter throughout the span of her college career, and she served as campus correspondent from her sophomore to her senior year.
“There is so much stress, anxiety and uncertainty right now,” Chiaramonte said. “It’s been really inspiring seeing so many different students, special guests and brands come together to support the class of 2020 in the making of this event.”
#ImStillGraduating will feature student speakers and various guest appearances to congratulate the graduating class. The event’s website allows guests to create graduation announcements and send video messages to graduates.
According to Chiaramonte, Her Campus is offering a lineup of guests everyone can look forward to. Appearances will range from that of Eva Longoria Baston, Andrew Yang, Liam Payne, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh and Margaret Cho among many others.
“I’ve seen a lot of my peers post about this event,” Reeves said. “It seems like it still means a lot to many people even when it’s not what we imagined, so it’s definitely acting as a consolation.”
The #ImStillGraduating website already has 19 pages filled with the names of high school and college graduates, six of them being registered from UF. The guest list is expected to continue growing.
“This is for everyone,” Chiaramonte said. “It’s for college graduates, for high school graduates, for friends and families of students, for men, for women. It’s to see us all come together for the Class of 2020 even when we can’t physically come together.”
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Saweetie is no longer scheduled to perform in the event.