root cellar

AKA graduation

Posted 5/20/20

My son Sam attended his “Virtual degree Conferral” (AKA graduation in pre-pandemic parlance) from Syracuse University (SU) in our crepe-paper-festooned living room this past …

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root cellar

AKA graduation


My son Sam attended his “Virtual degree Conferral” (AKA graduation in pre-pandemic parlance) from Syracuse University (SU) in our crepe-paper-festooned living room this past weekend.

Sam rolled out bed for the 10 a.m. ceremony with his unshorn quarantine hair and parked himself on the couch with the cat and a cup of coffee. Certainly, it was not how he or any graduate of the more than 6,600-member graduation class of 2020 had expected their SU career to end. But they are in the good company of all students whose schools have canceled or postponed commencement exercises for the foreseeable future.

Syracuse University took both roads. While it canceled the customary May graduation in lieu of a virtual event, it is also planning a full graduation ceremony to be held sometime in the fall.

The school had already upset tradition by announcing last fall that the 2020 graduation would not be held in its usual spot in the Carrier Dome, home to the school’s well-known sports teams. The change was due to a renovation project. Instead, to the consternation of some, the graduation was to be held outside on the lawn known as the Shaw Quadrangle. To us, it was a minor problem in the scheme of things at the time. But given how the year 2020 would unfold, it became as irrelevant as the vacation days I had been carefully saving in order to attend the festivities. Who knew how the year 2020 would reveal itself?

Instead, we enjoyed the graduation in the cluttered but comfortable quadrangle of our living room. Short and sweet, the ceremony lasted under 15 minutes. The event featured remarks from SU personal like chancellor Kent Syverud and included comments from alumni Mike Tirico, sportscaster with NBC Sports and Weijia Jiang, White House correspondent with CBS News and a frequent reporter at President Trump’s coronavirus press briefings noted for asking tough questions (for which she has consequently borne the brunt of Trump’s ire).

Then we celebrated with a bottle of champagne left over from New Year’s and a homemade cheesecake. We presented Sam with a framed collection of photos from his time as a reporter, news editor and editor in chief of The Daily Orange, the independent student newspaper at SU. More than any class, The Daily Orange has equipped Sam for a successful career in journalism.

Sam won’t be attending the in-person graduation tentatively planned for the fall since he has a job lined up as a reporter at a newspaper in South Carolina starting in June. The job will focus on coronavirus news and concerns in the state. I will make sure he brings plenty of masks and hand sanitizer with him.

Today we sorted through pots, pans and silverware that he will take when he moves later this month. He rented an apartment this morning. We wish him the best as he moves on to his next adventure.


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