The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Viewpoint: Triumphant return to in-person graduation at the Freeman Coliseum

Viewpoint: Triumphant return to in-person graduation at the Freeman Coliseum - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Spring 2015 Graduation ceremony May 15, 2015 at Freeman Coliseum. Photo courtesy of A&M-San Antonio Flickr account

Texas A&M University-San Antonio will be hosting its first traditional graduation ceremony since Fall 2019. The university will be hosting two ceremonies at the Freeman Coliseum May 21.

Commencement will begin for the College of Business and the College of Education at 10 a.m., followed by the College of Arts and Sciences at 4 p.m.

Graduating seniors on the Mesquite published an op-ed in March 2020 detailing their personal disappointment upon the announcement that Spring commencement would be postponed until Fall 2020. 

This semester, the university has marked a return to traditional commencement ceremonies after roughly two years of hybrid and “curbside” alternatives originally adopted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Though the pandemic is not completely behind us, with high vaccination rates and decreasing cases reported in Bexar county recently, a traditional ceremony now poses little threat to fully vaccinated graduates and their guests. 

Being able to invite all my family and friends to this in-person ceremony is especially comforting after all we have been through together these past couple of years.

As I and my fellow graduates prepare to finally walk the stage, now is a perfect time to reflect on our collective struggles and triumphs over the course of the pandemic.

Graduates move their tassels from the right to the left following the commencement ceremony on May 18, 2019. Graduates wore two tassels, a traditional tassel and a commemorative one marking the university’s 10th anniversary. Photo by Christy Romero.

I’m reminded of own financial and emotional struggles I experienced as a student, especially during the height of the pandemic. There were so many times I considered quitting under the weight of difficult circumstances.

This isn’t an experience unique to me.

Studies show that undergraduate students drop out of college at a rate of 40% before graduation, a rate that has likely spiked due to the pandemic.

Low-income students of color are statistically more likely to drop out of college primarily because of financial circumstances.

As a certified Southside Hispanic-serving institution, A&M-San Antonio is uniquely fit to serve the same communities often left out of opportunities for higher education. 

As I prepare to walk the stage this Saturday, I sincerely hope administration will continue to prioritize the financial and educational needs of its student population.

I believe administration and faculty alike must continue to express unwavering compassion for students. I can say from experience that without the patience and support of instructors and mentors during my most difficult times, I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

Though a return to the Freeman Collisuim this Spring is an encouraging opportunity and a step towards normalcy, the pandemic has undoubtedly altered many of our paths as students.

Whether we’ve lost a loved one or lost a part of ourselves in these difficult times, it’s all the more reason to take pride in being able to cross the graduation stage.

Every step of this journey has been a radical act of resilience in the face of global turmoil. 

I’m incredibly eager to meet my peers on stage on graduation day. I know every graduate and student that perseveres through these difficult times has the capacity to make a positive change in this world. 

And to my classmates who are still finding their way through hardship, I know a new day will come. As author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” 

For more information on the Spring 2022 commencement ceremonies, visit https://www.tamusa.edu/graduationservices/index.html or call the Office of the Registrar at (210) 784-1369.

About the Author

Gabrielle Tellez
Managing Editor
Gabrielle Tellez is a communications junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Social Media Editor at the Mesquite, minoring in English studies and specializing in digital marketing. When she isn't writing witty captions for social media, Tellez flexes her creative muscles by creating digital art using the latest design software. Certified in marketing strategies and local tourism, Tellez hopes to pursue her passions without straying too far from her beloved home of San Antonio.

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