There is nothing like hearing your name called as you walk across the stage.

Those words stood out to me the most as I struggled to read the latest email from graduation services through tearful eyes.

For the class of 2020, we may never know that feeling. At least not according to plan.

Spring and summer 2020 commencement ceremonies will now be virtual. President Larry Dietz and other university officials will still make regards and there will be an opportunity for students to submit pictures.

There will be no decorating your cap, walking around the campus and the Quad one last time as a student, taking pictures with friends. We won’t get to march in to that obnoxious graduation song and sit through a two-hour ceremony, anxiously waiting for our name to be called.

We won’t get to try and spot our family in the sea of people that would have filled the beautifully remodeled Redbird Arena.

We won’t be able to walk across the stage and shake the hands of professors who have supported us and shaped us into the people that we are.

I can’t say I’m surprised by any means. In fact, I was expecting it, just as McLean County was expecting its first confirmed case of coronavirus.

It was just a matter of time. 

But that doesn’t make it any less upsetting. Yes, of course commencement is simply a formality, but for students it is so much more than that.

It is truly a measure of success. A symbol of all the hard work, time, dedication and money that we have invested in this university and in ourselves.

This message hit particularly close to home for me.

After four years (or 3.75 at this rate) I will be watching my graduation ceremony through my phone or laptop. It’s heartbreaking.

Although I am not a first-generation student, I would have been the first in my family to have gone away and completed four consecutive years at a university.

This was and still is a huge accomplishment for me.

My father passed away right before I started at ISU. For the longest time I thought about giving up and not going to school. But I knew that he would want me to go on and receive a higher education.

He was my motivation through the emotional journey that is college. I planned to pay tribute to him with my cap decorations. And now I won’t get to have that special moment.

But enough of my sob story. There are so many students out there, and not just Illinois State students, who are feeling the effects of this.

Beyond graduation, people across the country are being impacted by the coronavirus in some form or another.

So, before you try to tell a graduating senior that there are more important things to worry about, think about that important thing that you were looking forward to that was taken away from you.

This entire crisis is truly a humbling experience.

It has made me realize what is important to me and that in an instant that can be taken from you.

Hold your loved ones a little closer and be grateful for what you do have because I don’t think that this ends with canceling graduation ceremonies.

GRACE BARBIC is the News Editor for The Vidette. She can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter at @gracebarbic

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