UofSC Aiken graduates celebrate overcoming pandemic struggles

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 10:16 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - In a year full of unpredictability, graduates of the University of South Carolina in Aiken finally get to safely celebrate four years of hard work.

“We had a committee made up of faculty staff who have met for the last four months to try to figure out how to do this in the safest environment possible,” Ahmed Samaha Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs said.

Many universities decided to cancel commencement because of rising COVID-19 cases for this fall, but UofSC Aiken continued with their traditional graduation ceremony with safety precautions.

“...I trusted the university to come up with a plan to let us have this moment together,” Graduate Amethyst Marroquin, said.

Safety precautions included requiring mask coverings, temperatures checked at the gate, each graduate was only allowed two guests and social distancing across a vast football field.

“...This might be one of the strangest times that we’ve had for graduates in the recent history of the country...,” Samaha said.

And it’s not only strange, as graduating in 2020 comes with its own share of financial and emotional difficulties.

A study by the Loan Hero found, 4 out of 5 college graduates are facing financial struggles due to the pandemic.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the unemployment rate for 20 to 24-year-olds at 10.4 percent, lower than the start of the pandemic but still higher than average.

“I consider the class of 2020 to be one of the most resilient classes to be out there...,” Marroquin said.

But for graduates like Marroquin, those numbers don’t discourage her.

“I think we have to take every day one step at a time. I think graduating, no matter what time someone graduates, it’s a scary thing,” she said. “But if you put one foot in front of the other, you don’t give up then try again, that’s all you really can do.”

Determination from a graduating class, one that’s succeeding against all odds.

A recording of the ceremony can be viewed below.

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