2020/2021 pomp and circumstance


Isabelle Indelicato, Staff Writer

With 2020 Commencement in the rearview mirror, some students have remaining questions regarding the Class of 2020 joining the Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony.

In an email sent to parents and students on April 14, President Helen Drinan stated that members of the Class of 2020 are invited to participate in the Class of 2021 commencement. Drinan added that the invitation was based off of results from a survey sent to 2020 seniors by the 2020 Class Council. 

Secretary for the 2020 Class Council Caroline Smith said that “it was important they [the Commencement Ceremonies] be kept separate,” based on the survey results. The survey information was shared with Corey Zohlman, assistant dean of student engagement, and Richard Voos, associate provost for planning, assessment, and accreditation, during a Zoom meeting.

The class council was  caught off guard by the announcement of a combined ceremony, according to Smith. “After gathering suggestions from our class and sharing our ideas with the school, it was frustrating and discouraging to feel so unheard,” she said.

Recent graduate Mariana Garcia echoed the frustration felt by the class council, saying, “I don’t think a lot of student’s voices were heard, or they were not acknowledged.” 

Garcia, who is living in Los Angeles with her family due to the pandemic, received her degree in social work with a minor in media arts virtually, and said that she is planning on traveling back to Boston to attend the 2021 Commencement.

“I’m not sure how they’re going to make it feel individualized so that the Class of 2020 feels special and so does the Class of 2021,” says Garcia. 

Already upset with the celebrations of her senior year being taken away due to the pandemic, Garcia wishes that Simmons had “tried something that isn’t involved with the class of 2021,” such as separate ceremonies next May.

Although grateful for the opportunity that she has to walk next year, Garcia said that there are logistics to be figured out for the nearly 3 thousand mile journey she will have to take next May for her walk across the graduation stage.

“I’m hoping I’ll be set up with a job so that it will be financially feasible to travel to Boston,” said Garcia.  She is currently planning on staying in an Airbnb, or staying with friends, but says that it would be ideal if Simmons could provide housing for students who need to travel. 

Lily Pennington, who received her degree in mathematics with a severe special education minor, shared the hope that Simmons will provide housing for those who have to travel to participate.

Had this year’s commencement taken place, Pennington would’ve returned to Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion in 2021, (the location where Simmons commencement has taken place for over ten years,) to receive her Graduate degree from the Special Education program. 

“I was kind of feeling bad for my friends who only have this opportunity to walk across the stage as opposed to how I get an opportunity next year,” said Pennington. For her, a combined ceremony is “a step in the right direction,” but feels that it could be taking away from the Class of 2021’s experience. 

“I think it shortchanged both classes a bit,” said Peya Ureña, a rising senior political science major and journalism minor. “It can’t be impossible to have the 2020 Commencement on a different day than the 2021 Commencement next year.”