Spring graduates will not be participating in this semester’s traditional commencement ceremony, as all spring commencement ceremonies have been postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The University’s big decision resulted in an opportunity, however, to participate in a virtual ceremony, which is being coordinated to happen in place of the traditional ceremony in May.
“The decision to postpone the May commencement was made following the state’s executive order and guidance of the CDC to avoid large gatherings,” said Lynda Langham, University registrar.
On Friday, senior Emahni Guyton, a communication disorders major from Plano was thrown a graduation ceremony by her co-workers at the childcare center where she works.
“I was devastated when I found out graduation was postponed,” said Guyton. “I was looking forward to graduation because it's such a huge accomplishment to walk across that stage with loved ones there cheering you on. I'm a first-generation college student, so this wasn't just important for me but for my entire family. I know graduation will take place eventually, but I've been waiting for May 8 for so long.”
Guyton received the email while at work on Thursday and told her coworkers about it. Seeing how upset Guyton was, they decided to throw her a ceremony the next day.
“My coworkers seemed to be working on something, but I wasn't sure what was going on. Later, I found out they were decorating the room for me,” said Guyton. “The director of the childcare center, Mark Furman, asked me to join him in one of the classrooms, and that's where my ceremony was held.”
All of her coworkers were there with signs they had made, and the graduation song was playing in the background. Furman gave a speech and Guyton got to “walk across the stage,” a red carpet that had been laid out for her.
“I was so touched by this because they didn't have to do that for me at all,” said Guyton. “It was so beautiful to see everyone come together at a time like this because everything we see and hear in the news right now is sad, but they were able to turn it into something positive for me.”
Cailyn Ranáe, a co-worker of Guyton’s, from Plano, filmed the ceremony and posted it to Tik Tok.
“I'm not in school anymore, but knowing that someone worked hard for four years, they deserve the ceremony and proper acknowledgement for it,” said Ranáe. “I wanted to post it as a way to acknowledge and appreciate her, and anyone else who's graduation was canceled due to the virus. Social media is an easy way to spread that love and positivity during this time of chaos and uncertainty. I hope it inspires friend groups to do the same for their close friends and loved ones who missed out on the opportunity to walk across the stage this year.”
Guyton said she is grateful for this experience and hopes that other graduates know their work has not gone unnoticed.
“I am so blessed to have people in my life who notice when I'm hurting and care enough to cheer me up,” said Guyton. “I want other students who are graduating in May to know that this is still an amazing accomplishment, and that nothing can take the achievement away from us.”