Ceremony or no ceremony: Class of 2020 did that

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A college graduate throws a hand in the air to celebrate their most recent accomplishment.

By Meghan Lyons, Special Sections Editor

Somewhere, in a different realm, there is a buzzing campus in central Illinois.

It’s graduation day for the class of 2020 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

The weather is beautiful: spring is really here, there is nothing in the sky but a cyan-blue hue. As you make your way to Memorial Stadium, you can’t help but notice the flowers bursting in full bloom on the trees that line First Street. On top of your head is a graduation cap. You are dressed in a long, royal blue gown accompanied by a bold orange stole bearing your brand-new alma mater: The University of Illinois.

To your left is another student, dressed in the same cap and gown. You have never seen this student before, but you share the same wondrous feeling. Both of you are curious individuals, wondering what life has in store after college.

Whether it be four years, or even two years — the University of Illinois has undoubtedly become your home. It is a strange feeling to think that soon, you will leave this community and everything that comes with it. It not a sad feeling, but rather a sense of growing up. In this place, you have grown immensely. The person you came here as is different. It is still you, of course. But, a sharper, humbler, and more educated version of you.

Now, you are about to enter Memorial Stadium. Inside the concrete walls, you can hear the chatter of families and friends of graduating students. Soon enough, a green football field folds out in front of you, along with the thousands of other students jamming the field. A melody reverberates through the air as the band plays music. You make your way to your designated seat, parting with the unknown student who walked at your side that you still somehow connected with.

The crowd is silent. At the podium stands Chancellor Robert Jones. For a few moments, the Chancellor gives out his speech. As he speaks, the feeling you felt while walking into Memorial Stadium is growing. It’s the same, excitement — similar to the old exciting feeling you would always get as a small child. Then, the Chancellor utters the words you have been dying to hear.

“Congratulations to the Illini class of 2020. You may now toss your hats.”

The once silent crowd erupts in cheer. Thousands of caps are immediately launched into the air, the hats blue against the even more blue sky.

The next moment, you’re back somewhere in a house. Online classes had just finished a few days ago, signaling the end of your time here at the University of Illinois. Your eyes look glossy — perhaps tired from constantly staring into your computer screen. A new email pops up from the University. You click the email, and it opens in big letters:

“Congratulations to the Illini class of 2020.”

You close it.

Little do you know, these two realities seem different. They’re not. These two realities are exactly the same.

In both realities, you have graduated. Ceremony or no ceremony, you did that. You have graduated from one of the top universities in the entire world.

Did you let the pandemic of the century stop you? Absolutely the hell not. And look at you, sitting there right now. You’re a champion, a champion with blue and orange coursing through their veins. You’re an unstoppable, unbreakable, Fighting Illini.

You did it, kid.

You’ve graduated.

Meghan is a sophomore in LAS

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