COVID-19 alters commencement path


Faith Wilson, Staff Writer

Gannon University’s fall commencement ceremony will occur Saturday, Nov. 21, but there are many questions on what it will look like as the pandemic is still a cause for concern.

In a recent press release by the university, Gannon announced that the ceremony would still be taking place in person but there would be new restrictions to ensure the safety of the students.

One of the biggest differences will be the new policy of guest attendance.

Usually students would be surrounded by friends and family during their graduation, but this year no guests will be allowed.

However, there will be a live stream for guests to watch and support the new graduates as they are honored for all their hard work and achievements over the past few years.

Masks will be required during the ceremony and students will be seated following social distancing guidelines.

Pierre McCormick will be giving the commencement speech.

McCormick graduated from Gannon in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in management. Among the groups he’s worked with are the Wisconsin Wholesale Beverage Distributors Association,  where he served as past chairman; the Madison Hospitality council, where he served as a board member; the Downtown Madison Rotarian and Jefferson Society and the Chairman’s Circle for the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Retiring from his position as president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Distributors, he is the managing member of Blue Pike Properties, an Impact Investment real estate company.

McCormick is also an investor and owner in Lake Erie Rubber and a founding member of Erie Downtown Development Corporation.

Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., acknowledged that this particular commencement will cap a semester like no other.

“These past several months have certainly posed an unusual set of circumstances,” he said in a recent video posted by the university.

Many graduating students are feeling the weight of that sentence.

“It’s not what I imagined my graduation was going to be like,” Meghan Hughes, a health sciences major, said.

“I am thankful that we still have a graduation; I always imagined my family being able to watch me walk across the stage, so it is sad that they have to watch over a live stream.”

Another graduate, Araceli Cruz-Castaneda, a criminal justice major, is devastated to not have her family with her on her special day.

“I have worked so hard over the years to not be able to have my loved ones accompany me on this special day; as the first college graduate in my family it is a big deal,” Cruz-Castaneda said.

“I do understand that these restrictions are necessary. These are hard times, but we cannot be selfish.”

Seniors will be graduating amid a global pandemic that prematurely ended the spring 2020 semester and caused major disruptions to the fall 2020 semester.

Despite the unusual circumstances, Gannon will finish the semester in person, an accomplishment that was thought by many to be against the odds.

The commencement ceremony will be the conclusion to the unusual semester.


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