Like countless other graduates across the country, Darrion Montemayor did not get to walk the stage in August. Instead, she spent her graduation having dinner with her family and listening for her name in a virtual ceremony due to spikes in COVID-19 cases.
“It was pretty crushing, honestly,” Montemayor said. “I worked so hard to graduate in the summer. For the virtual graduation, I expected a live slideshow or something, something more personal than it was.”
In October, University President Denise Trauth announced the university would hold in-person commencement ceremonies Dec. 10-11 in Bobcat Stadium for spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates, an announcement that came as a surprise to some graduates previously denied the opportunity to walk the stage in the summer.
Graduates can reserve up to four tickets to the socially-distant outdoor commencement. A virtual commencement ceremony will also take place Dec. 12 for graduates who choose not to walk in-person.
Montemayor, who is currently living in Corpus Christi, says even though she and other graduates have not received details yet on how many tickets they will receive, she is enthusiastically awaiting Dec. 10 for her opportunity to walk the stage—an event she plans to travel two-and-a-half hours to San Marcos for.
Kaela Wilson, an early summer graduate, is also looking forward to the December in-person commencement after not being included in the virtual ceremony for summer graduates.
Wilson says she is not as concerned about COVID-19 and believes the university will do everything it can to ensure the safety of graduates and their respective families who attend.
"I’m not worried,” Wilson said. “I think if everybody's wearing masks, and we're sitting apart from each other, the graduation will be safe.”
Not everyone was satisfied with the news of an in-person fall commencement. When spring graduate Brittany Malik first heard summer graduation in Strahan Arena was canceled, she tweeted at the university asking why the ceremony could not be held at Bobcat Stadium instead.
"The commencement feasibility workgroup did (originally) look at the option [to hold ceremonies in Bobcat Stadium], but they also recognized that it is almost certainly going to be 100 degrees [in August]," Trauth told The University Star in May.
"Layered on top of that, if it did rain, there's no indoor site we could have had it in the event that it rained," Trauth said. [We can't move it] at the last minute indoors; that's the whole problem: You can't do social distancing in Strahan."
Even with Texas State deciding to hold ceremonies in the stadium at the conclusion of the fall semester, Malik still has questions.
“I just don't understand the logic behind why we couldn't do it at the stadium then, but we can do it now,” Malik said. “May and August graduates have jobs now, and y’all are wanting us to do it on a Thursday, so we have to take off work.”
Malik, who currently lives in New Braunfels, says she would not have to travel far to attend the commencement but realizes that may not be the case for all graduates. While she still plans to attend, she says she is not as enthusiastic as she was when she initially finished her degree.
“I feel like, at the end of the day, I would regret if I did not walk the stage,” Malik said. “So, that's why I'm doing it, but it's not something I'm super excited about anymore.”
Spring graduate Jordan Jones says she is frustrated with how Texas State has handled commencement for 2020 graduates, saying due to the pandemic, students and their families should have received more time to plan for an in-person ceremony.
“We found out in late October about the graduation; that’s not a lot of time,” Jones said. “Some people have moved, so I’m sure a lot of students are probably not going to be able to attend.”
After finishing school, Jones moved to Houston to be closer to her family. Despite this, Jones says she will be attending the in-person ceremony Dec. 10.
“I went through depression and a lot of anxiety to get my degree,” Jones said. “College has honestly put me through the worst stuff ever with juggling school, trying to socialize and working to finance my school. I just need this one last hurrah so I can feel like it actually meant something.”
Jones says the motivation that kept her going was the visualization of herself walking across a stage to receive her diploma.
“It's not going to be the experience I wanted,” Jones said. "This is my last shot for my family to actually see me walk across the stage, so they can celebrate this monumental moment with me.”
For more information on fall commencement for 2020 graduates, visit Texas State's commencement webpage.