'A sense of completion.' Miami University honors class of 2020 and 2021 graduates
With her first year of teaching nearly finished, Sydney Barnett said she believes she can finally move on from her college self.
Barnett, from Cincinnati's West Side, graduated from Miami University with a bachelor's in music education in May 2020. But like so many other schools across the nation, her commencement ceremony was canceled due to COVID-19. She left Oxford in a blur and now teaches general music, choir and film studies at Lebanon City Schools.
At this point, she said, Barnett and her friends had come to terms with the fact that they would likely never get a graduation ceremony.
"We didn't really have that final moment last year," Barnett said. "Everyone left campus at different times and there was no, really, getting to say goodbye to the campus and to my friends."
But as COVID-19 safety protocols began to loosen earlier this spring, Miami U., Northern Kentucky University and Mount St. Joseph University announced year-delayed of 2020 celebrations. The University of Cincinnati said it plans to honor its 2020 graduates in the fall or in spring 2022.
Miami's class of 2020 ceremony was scheduled for Thursday evening, the first of four days of ceremonies this weekend honoring both the class of 2020 and this year's graduates. Miami spokesperson Jessica Rivinius said about 550 students, or 10%, of the class of 2020 returned for Thursday's commencement, at which Barnett sang the National Anthem.
What Barnett said she's most excited about, though, is just getting to spend one more night with her friends in Oxford.
"It definitely feels like there's a sense of completion," Barnett said. "Obviously, I've been teaching and moving on to the next phase of life for the past year, and it's been great. But it is nice to finally be recognized for all the hours of work and everything that went in to getting an undergrad degree. So yeah, it's exciting and I'm glad that we're finally getting to do that."
Class of 2021
Miami has planned nine divisional, in-person ceremonies at Yager Stadium in Oxford for the class of 2021 this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Students are allowed up to six guests, and the ceremonies are also being livestreamed.
President Greg Crawford plans to make remarks at each ceremony. Also speaking at each ceremony is Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, a 1974 Western College for Women graduate and the first woman of color to be president of the League of Women Voters. She was elected in 1998 and served two terms as president.
“For my generation, it’s time to pass the mantle and then be supportive,” Jefferson-Jenkins said in a news release. “What I hope to convey to the new Miami alumni is that they were made for a moment like this. Every generation has a transformational time, and this is it for them. And while we don’t know what the future holds, we know that this class is made for this moment – their passion, their perseverance, their adaptability. We know they will make the world better, and their Miami education and experience has prepared them for that.”
Miami is honoring about 4,000 of its 2021 graduates in person this weekend, Rivinius said.
Altogether, Miami's class of 2021 was awarded:
- 4,794 total degrees.
- 3,978 bachelor's degrees.
- 646 master's degrees.
- 15 doctorates.
- 124 certificates.
- 91 associate's degrees.