Completion Celebration Mocks Winter Graduates

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. That isn’t the case when it comes to graduations however.

On Dec. 14, 2017, WCC held a ceremony for students who earned their certificates or Associates. Instead of calling it what is was, a graduation, it was referred to as a Completion Celebration.

To be clear, it is a wonderful gesture to have any recognition when you earn your degree at any point other than May, but to call a graduation anything other than a graduation is more akin to a slap than a handshake.

It held the same formula that a normal graduation ceremony would consist of. Key figures of the college making a speech on the importance of education, and the valuable memories made at WCC. Loved ones watching as students walk across a stage to receive an empty diploma cover.

“It was so close to being a real commencement. But it wasn’t.” said WCC graduate Ash Riley.

For international students like Riley, or anyone who looks to get on a fast track for their life, be it pursuing higher education or joining the workforce, returning to the Valhalla area for the main graduation ceremony may not be a realistic option.

“It was good that it was less formal and in the gym,” said Riley. “But it was too close to a real commencement to not notice the fact that they couldn’t call out like, 100 names and let us dress up.”

Truly, all that was required to bridge the gap between a full graduation experience and the constellation prize of earning a diploma off season was allowing students to wear a cap and gown, and saying their names as they walked across stage. Perhaps these were left out to save time and money for all those involved, but denying these details somewhat denies that legitimacy of a students hard work.

Positives came with the smaller scale celebration however. Anyone who has ever attended the full scale graduation ceremony in White Plains knows the frustrations that come along with the day, and the more relaxed dress code didn’t go unnoticed.

The timing of this celebration however may have taken away  value from this day as well. Unlike the ceremony that occurs at the end of the Spring semester, many of the students who walked across that stage were still stressing out over finals, and deserve far more credit than they were given.

In spite of the celebrations shortcomings, this, along with anything introduced in education environments, can be a learning experience.

“This is the perfect time to hear from students about what they think,” wrote Director of College-Community Relations, Patrick Hennessy.  “We are very interested in receiving student feedback or proposals. It’s a relatively new event, and we may have already outgrown what we have done over the past several years.”

I wouldn’t dream of speaking on behalf of the entire community, but this sounds like an invitation for anyone to address anything that they liked or disliked about the completion celebration. After all, things won’t get better unless if people are willing to acknowledge change is needed.

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