UI gives pomp to graduates during COVID-19 circumstances

Illinois+graduates+line+up+in+front+of+Alma+Mater+in+commencement+attire+for+a+photo+on+Thursday.+Students+who+graduated+this+past+week+have+overcome+one+of+the+hardest+years+in+all+of+their+academic+endeavors.+

Abe Baali

Illinois graduates line up in front of Alma Mater in commencement attire for a photo on Thursday. Students who graduated this past week have overcome one of the hardest years in all of their academic endeavors.

By Gwyn Skiles, Features Editor

After what many said was the hardest year of their academic history, graduates walked triumphantly across the stage and received their diploma.

The celebration meant the world to Flavia Batista da Silva, former Graduate student in LAS.

Batista da Silva came to the University alone — because of COVID-19 complicating travel, her family was stuck at their home in Brazil. However, when walking across the stage she was surrounded by friends and a surreal feeling.

“It was definitely a COVID-19 ceremony but it was good and I will remember it forever,” Batista da Silva said. “My parents were so happy that they could see me graduate even though they weren’t physically here.”

Batista da Silva used Instagram Live to allow her parents to watch her walk across the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts stage. 

Cristina Marila, former senior in LAS, said she didn’t know what to expect graduation would look like. However, she said she was delightfully surprised and grateful the University prioritized COVID-19 precautions to make an in-person ceremony possible.

Having been isolated with online classes for over a year, Marila said one of the best parts about graduation was seeing the other graduates.

“It was so nice seeing everybody on the quad in their graduation gowns and thinking about how we’re all so deserving to be graduating with these degrees,” Marila said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have the same experiences as the seniors last year or I would’ve been very devastated to not have had much going on.”

As the daughter of immigrants and a first generation college student, Marila said graduating meant a lot to her. 

“I know that some people were like ‘I don’t really want to do it — it doesn’t matter,” Marila said. “But for me even having the ability to cross the stage was really nice.”

Mike Hennelly, former senior in LAS, said this graduation was unlike any other in terms of intimacy. 

“For me it was perfect — this was the best graduation I’d ever been to,” Hennelly said. “Afterwards I got to have a really intimate moment with my family which was something that I wouldn’t have had at another graduation because typically there’s a lot of people and you have to organize finding your family which is quite a mess.”

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