‘It’s about celebrating the four years’: Newman University to host virtual graduation

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been circled on calendars for months, graduation.

“It’s not just getting a piece of paper. It’s about celebrating the four years that we spent here,” said Emily Larkin, Newman University senior.

For Emily Larkin, it’s the day she becomes a first-generation college graduate.

“Both my parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and of my siblings, I’m the only one who has had the opportunity to finish, and so I think it’s for students like me who see this as a huge milestone,” she said.

Friday, May 8, Newman University is taking the celebration virtual with a live stream at 3 p.m..

“While we couldn’t do it in person, we wanted to make sure that we made it as special as possible. So that each of them can have the opportunity to shine in their own moment,” said Christine Schnikart-Luebbe, Newman University Dean of Students.

Like many other students this is not how Courtney Klaus envisioned closing this chapter.

“I expected to see all my friends with their caps and gowns. It’s just not being able to see and hug your friends or your teachers afterward and having family all there to say congratulations, give you a high five,” she explained.

While a little disappointed, Klaus is still grateful.

“It certainly won’t be the same, but I’m glad that we’re still doing something,” she said.

Instead of photos with family and friends, some students will be turning to video calls.

“My family will be tuning in for sure. I think we’re going to be doing like a Zoom little party, as we’re watching. So, I’m definitely excited for it,” said Jose Rojas Montero.

Although some of the seniors are upset, they have come to accept the change, even finding a silver lining.

“The class of 2020 will be remembered and their experience will be significant in a way that a lot of previous graduating classes and futures won’t be,” said Klaus.

Newman University officials say they are also hoping to plan in-person graduation once the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down and it is safe.

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