TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona Class of 2020 finally got to experience an in-person graduation ceremony on Friday evening.
The graduates’ official graduation in May 2020 was live-streamed as COVID-19 rapidly spread across the country, preventing any in-person gathering.
Friday’s ceremony brought more than 1,000 members of the class back together again as part of UArizona’s 2021 Homecoming Weekend.
“It feels like finality,” said graduate Joel Romero. “It feels like a sense of closure.”
“It’s very strange, I feel like I’m an old man at this point,” said graduate Zach Lovvorn. “I see, everyone’s got backpacks, everyone’s doing their own thing. Now I’m off just living the life, trying to figure out the career and everything post-graduation.”
Including guests, more than 3,000 people claimed tickets for the first graduation in front of the iconic Old Main in more than a century.
Many of the graduates were returning to campus for the first time since they were students, when the pandemic began shutting down everyday life.
It also de-railed many students’ post-graduation plans.
“I had been applying for a few nationally competitive scholarships, which I ended up winning but had been canceled,” graduate Jessy Forelli said. “So I was not able to leave the country.”
“‘Cause I was a film major, I was expected to head to L.A. after graduation, but since the pandemic happened, I was stuck at home trying to find opportunities here to pursue my passion,” Romero said.
Both Forelli and Romero pivoted and found jobs in Tucson. Other students had to do so at home after searching for months while companies stopped hiring last spring.
“Very enlightening, and it’s been a way for me to grow exponentially,” Lovvorn said. “‘Cause I have to figure things out and really figure out how to navigate the ‘real world’… Feet first into the deep end. So it’s been great to see how much growth I’ve done since I left.”
Getting their moment on stage and with friends and family also brought out a lot of gratitude.
“I’m just so thankful that the university remembered us, and we’re really appreciative that we get to have a ceremony,” Forelli said.
It’s been a really great time,” Lovvorn added. “And I’m really glad to be able to just finish off strong,”
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