Spring graduation falls shy of fall semester
By David Gomez Jr.
Published Monday, May 11, 2020
This spring’s graduation occurs at the beginning of the fall semester on Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Sames Auto Arena, due to the pandemic.
On April 17, Texas A&M International University President Pablo Arenaz, appeared in a video in full regalia, in front of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts organ, speaking to the 50th graduating class in TAMIU history. He said the graduation ceremony, along with summer commencement exercises, would be postponed until mid-August before the start of the fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic affecting day-to-day routines.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on life as we know it,” Arenaz told viewers of the video. “… The senior class of 2020, you have seen your last semester delivered online, and the traditions and celebrations that have always framed the senior year experience either canceled or postponed.”
Soon after saying so, Arenaz offered some good news that the postponed ceremony would still be held at the Sames Auto Arena, as so for the past four years.
“For we are TAMIU together, always,” Arenaz added.
Then around May 7, Arenaz spoke again in another video. This time in a full suit and tie, inside the Great Hall on the third floor of the Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library.
He brought up again the bittersweetness of graduation from the presentation of the flags representing various students’ countries, the student respondent speech’s heartfelt words and the roaring cannons of confetti that spray on the graduates.
Though, his new message was directly to the point–conferring of the students’ degrees.
“So by the authority vested in me, by the Chancellor, and by the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System, acting under the enabling legislation establishing this University, I hereby confer upon each of you the degree to which you are entitled with all its rights, privileges and responsibilities,” Arenaz said, concluding with “Congratulations!”
Arenaz then went on to say, “You have a bright future ahead of you. You have been prepared by outstanding faculty to enter the workforce, graduate or professional school …”
This message of good will was sent to all of the graduating class of 2020, but when unemployment currently resides at more than 20 percent due to the pandemic, Arenaz’s message falls on the fearful ears of job seekers.
“It … sucks,” former editor-in-chief of The Bridge and fall 2019 TAMIU graduate Matthew Balderas said about the current job market.
“I had one official job offer from a TV company and made it to second-round interviews with the Houston Astros and had just secured an interview with the Houston Dynamo right before they decided to suspend the sports season,” Balderas said.
“Unfortunately, the job offer and interviews fell through but I’m hoping once this is all over, I can backpack up where I left off, if at all possible.”
For some, Arenaz’s message of “graduate or professional school” might feel like a safer route.
“For now, I have entered into a master’s program with TAMIU for my MBA [with a] concentration of international business for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester,” Balderas said.
As of now, with businesses opening throughout Texas, and across the nation, no one knows what summer has in store.
“Our commitment on this is clear, but I must caution that we will not proceed should public health conditions force us to revisit the plan,” Arenaz said, regarding the rescheduled commencement.
“Class of 2020, I look forward to handing you your diplomas.”
For the latest updates, visit the dedicated commencement website at www.tamiu.edu/commencment/