GRADUATES of colleges and universities are afraid they face an uncertain future in a world that continues to struggle with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Their future would take place in abnormal times with limited opportunities. Graduations are about celebrations, the feeling of fulfillment of having completed years of academic hardship. But graduation ceremonies held in the past weeks were different.
Schools held first-ever virtual commencement exercises. There were no processionals into auditoriums and gyms, no congratulatory handshakes from school heads and teachers, no going to restaurants for celebrations with family.
Officials sought creative ways to hold the ceremony. Schools big and small held virtual graduations through Facebook Live or Zoom, the video conferencing tool that allows up to 100 people to participate in real-time.
Graduation ceremonies at the Philippine Military Academy are among the most awaited because its graduates are the future leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. This year, it held closed graduation that excluded the public, family of the cadets and the media. Fort Gregorio Del Pilar in Baguio City has been closed to the public because of the risk of transmission of the new coronavirus.
One school decided to have roving graduation with the use of a flatbed vehicle converted into a stage. The school brought the vehicle to where small groups of students were and invited the graduates to go up the stage one by one while maintaining physical distancing.
Other institutions delivered the diplomas to individual graduates ahead of time, then asked them to go online at a set date and time for a ceremony via Zoom. Some of these virtual graduations required students to wear their toga and show the diploma.
A university involved its alumni in its unique celebration. It asked alumni members to take videos of themselves giving a short greeting or advice to the graduates. Their videos were then stitched and presented during the virtual commencement. The university then promised to hold an in-person celebration for its 2020 graduates in the future, when the pandemic is over and campuses reopen.
Some of the graduates said they see an uncertain future in this time of the pandemic as businesses have shut down and millions of workers have gone unemployed. In the Philippines, the number of jobless people is expected to reach five million by the end of the year. Small, medium and big companies had to resort to pay or benefits cuts to their employees, forced leave or letting some workers go.
It is to be expected for graduates to feel anxious about their tomorrow in these abnormal times but no one or nothing, not even the novel coronavirus, can take away their accomplishment. This pandemic will end once a vaccine is developed, then the opportunities for them will be there.
Graduates can use the time, for now, to take stock and celebrate their accomplishments. To the graduates--You are going to be fine.