June 18, 2020

Graduation in quarantine

There’s no need to hire a graduation cap and gown for a day when you get your graduation certificate emailed to you; this is what the first lot of ‘Class of 2020’ students have experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s almost the end of Semester One for multiple students all over the motu, but for a handful, it was supposed to be a little more. The closing chapter to dedicated years of study. A celebration to remind you that you made it. However, despite the unique circumstances we are facing in the world right now, graduation ceremonies have now been cancelled or postponed.

Massey University’s website offers their congratulations to graduate students despite the situation, with smaller ceremonies including Māori and Pasifika graduates to be postponed until further notice.

“I worked so hard over the three years and did summer school to finish my degree on time and graduate with my class of 2020 peers,” Indyah Tava’e said with disappointment.

“I was looking forward to the ceremony because I wanted to share it with my family.” 

It was a similar fate for students who were a part of Victoria University’s Class of 2020 graduates as well.

“It’s like here ya go, 3 years, thousands of dollars’ worth of student loan debt, a few many tears and mental breakdowns… for a piece of paper that got emailed to you,” Claudia Marsland said. 

She completed three years of studying a Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University last year, and hoped to walk down Lambton Quay on the 14th of May.

“I was planning to go to the student parade walk with my friend who was also supposed to be graduating,” she said, also emphasising how important it was for her family as well to mark the commemoration of her family-backed success.

“I found my graduation seemed more important to my family than it has been for me.” 

She also described her grad prep as an “interesting experience” as the build up to the traditional ceremony; signing up to graduate, the hiring of a graduation gown and cap, and planning who from her family would be able to attend the ceremony, only for it to be ripped away from her because of Covid-19.

“I understand the reasons due to Covid-19, but it still sucks to not have your achievements recognised in the time frame you wanted it.”

Even with the option to celebrate her achievements at the end of the year with the second cycle of 2020 graduates, the timing of the virus is a huge blow for students, who had thoroughly planned out the way they wanted to finish their years of study on top of final hand-ins.

Claudia remained positive nonetheless, knowing her family and friends are proud of her. 

“So that recognition is nice and is what matters the most.”

Miro King, another May 2020 graduate from Massey, had a different outlook.

“I had a lot of anxiety surrounding graduation even before all this Covid drama,” she said.

The demands of being a full time uni student when you come from a big family in a small town further up the line shows the demands for a change in environment, when your life for three years revolved around busy and bustling Te-Whanganui-ā-Tara. And with Covid-19 mucking up all these plans and causing uncertainty, it was just one less thing for Miro to worry about.

“The cancellation of grad was almost a relief, from my own selfish point of view.”

Miro did not anticipate the nitty gritty planning of graduation, especially when extracurricular commitments like the continuation of an internship at NZ Post as well as being offered another internship in Vietnam in June, although now cancelled, was at the top of her priority list.

“I did feel bad for those who verbalised their motivation to finish study was in fact to physically walk across that stage and receive their degree.”