Washington State University students will experience a graduation ceremony like no other today — from afar.
The university has canceled in-person graduation ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic, instead opting for a virtual ceremony for students across the state. Graduation will be streamed live beginning at 10 a.m. at experience.wsu.edu. WSU Vancouver has not yet announced plans for an in-person graduation.
Graduates will leave in the midst of a major economic meltdown, with historic unemployment rates and many employers putting open jobs on hold.
The Community Foundation of Southwest Washington in a news release last month noted that students who may be working part time to support their education have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic’s spread. It is exacerbated by the closure of programs such as school food pantries and other services.
Jenna Seng, 20, is graduating with a degree in digital technology and culture. She was recently laid off from her job at WareHouse ’23 but was brought back after the restaurant received coronavirus assistance.
Seng said she is optimistic about having a summer internship but worries what the fall brings. She hopes to move to California to pursue a career in video production, but many of the companies she’s explored aren’t hiring due to the pandemic.
“It’s the time where I’m transitioning to full independence,” she said. “It’s nerve-wracking thinking about that, if you’ll be able to get a job or if you’ll have to wait.”
Seng is looking forward to graduating and hopes her fellow graduates continue to take social-distancing measures seriously so the economy — and in turn, their career search — can get back on track.
“Please stay home, and make sure you’re socially distanced,” she said. “We can get out of this situation quicker.”