Students anticipate first in-person commencement in two years


Photo courtesy of Zain Bando

Zain Bando, senior in Media, discusses how much he has been looking forward to graduation being in-person and the ability to celebrate with his friends.

By Royal Shrestha, Assistant News Editor

After two years of virtual and hybrid commencement ceremonies due to the pandemic, the University will finally return to an in-person experience for the graduating class of 2022. 

The University-wide Commencement Ceremony will be held in Memorial Stadium as before and will not require students or guests to wear masks. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic, all the restrictions, the loss of in-person classes — all that stuff is finally in the past and we can celebrate it the right way,” said Zain Bando, senior in Media. “I’ve been looking forward to it all year and it’s only a few days away. I can hardly wait.”

Bando described graduation to be one of the most important college experiences as it acts as the final moment of closure to be with friends and others and how it is also a time to reflect on the past four years of hard work. 

“It’s certainly an experience as you sit in your chair with pride as you wait for them to announce your name,” Bando said. “It’s that moment as you walk across the stage where you’ll always be remembered as a graduate of the University of Illinois that’s so special.”

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Sierra Coyne, an alumni from the graduating class of 2021, described how students from last year were able to reserve a twenty-minute slot at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts during finals week in order to experience walking across the stage in a typical graduation ceremony. 

“There were no speeches or ceremonies,” Coyne said. “You just went up and walked the stage in your gown. It was relatively nice compared to not having anything else. I went to my sister’s graduation in 2016 and had a good comparison. That was very different because everyone was out that day celebrating, and it was way more chaotic and a vastly different experience.”

Saba Bando, mother of Zain Bando, said that the whole pandemic situation has been so unprecedented and that the University is just trying to make the best decision when it comes to things like mask wearing. She described how if people are concerned, then they have the choice of wearing masks.

“Although the experience is not the same, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t graduate and also doesn’t mean that you didn’t get your degree,” Saba Bando said. “You just missed out on that important day.”  

Although the University has invited all past graduates from 2020 and 2021, Coyne noted that she will only come back if others do since college to her is about the people that she met across her four years. 

“I didn’t know these past four years would go the way that it did, and I had no idea we would go through a pandemic on top of it,” Zain Bando said. “To have the final moments in Champaign the way that they are now and to have as normal a graduation as possible, I don’t think I could ask for anything more.”


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