After two years of COVID-19 precautioned graduations, Emporia State will host its first in-person, mask-free ceremony May 13 and 14 in William Lindsay White Civic Auditorium.  

“I think it’s nice to actually be able to enjoy actually graduating, getting to walk,” said Erica Dillard, senior crime and delinquency major. “Because COVID kind of stopped a lot of that.” 

When COVID-19 first shut the university down in 2020, there was no graduation ceremony. The next December, the ceremony was held virtually.  

“We filmed it all in Albert Taylor Hall,” said Sheila Markowitz, university registrar. “There wasn’t anybody in there so it was just kind of like, I think if you asked anyone involved in that, we were like, I think we produced a really good end product, but actually filming it was a little depressing.” 

The next spring, the ceremony was supposed to be held outside, only to be quickly moved into White Auditorium due to severe weather.  

“That was crazy,” Markowitz said. “But as a campus, we were also super excited that we were able to have an in person graduation ceremony, you know, it was amazing, and the number of people who worked together to make that happen.” 

This past December ceremony was also held in the auditorium. Along with COVID-19 precautions like masks and distanced seating both the spring and fall ceremonies limited the number of guests to two per graduate.  

This May, the restrictions on attendance will be lifted, allowing for graduates like Dillard, who has a child, to not have to worry about only being allowed two guests.  

Madison Schultz, senior communication major, is excited to have the limitations on attendance abandoned.  

“I even have my half sister who lives out of state who I didn’t really grow up with,” Schultz said. “She’s making the trip to come down, so it’s really nice that I can be like, ‘yes, you can come’ instead of saying ‘no, I can only bring two people.’ So that’s really great.” 

With graduation just around the corner, graduates are facing the reality of the world beyond the classroom.  

“I’m excited but I’m also kind of nervous because now I’m like I’ve got to get a real job,” said Dillard. “And I’m so used to going to school and working my other job so now I actually have to find a job in my career.” 

While Schultz is anxious about graduating, she is also very excited.  

“I’m just gonna have this breath of fresh air after I walk across that stage and just be done,” Schultz said. 

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