Guest Opinion: Take time to celebrate your University of Iowa graduation, 2020 Hawkeyes

While it may be disappointing to have no in-person spring 2020 commencement ceremonies, 2020 Hawkeye graduates should find ways to celebrate their accomplishment.


Graphic by Katina Zentz

Dear Seniors,

The last time I saw any of you, it was March — not even Saint Patrick’s Day. In a lot of ways, it seems like a whole different world.

I know this semester has been strange for you. It’s been strange for me, too. I’ve missed interacting with you.

I can’t imagine how it must be to not have the opportunity to walk in your graduation ceremony and to pursue your career goals in this economy. You’ve had to work so hard to get here. Many of you have had to make sacrifices. Many of you have struggled against various barriers. Many of you have endured tough things. I’m sad for you that your college experience has to end this way—unceremoniously.

Maybe it feels like something was stolen from you or like something that you’ve waited for your whole life is not going to happen. Those feelings are so real and true. You are allowed to grieve. You are right to grieve, I think. College is huge — the graduation and also all the things you had to do to get here and to help yourself succeed. YOU did it, though. YOU did it.

Your work here at the University of Iowa has been valuable. You have the tools you need to go forth into the world and to do the things you want to do. It might be hard for a while, but you will get to where you need and want to be in time. We believe in you.

When I reflect back on my own college experience — one of the most precious experiences of my life — I remember that I did not walk at my own graduation ceremony. I had a conference track meet to run in that day, and the track meet was more valuable to me.

If you can, try to do something you value on your graduation day — something to celebrate yourself and what you have accomplished. Maybe you will do your own celebratory walk in your driveway or create a tin foil medal for yourself. If you are 21, maybe you will have a glass of champagne. Maybe you will make something beautiful for yourself. Maybe you will spend some time, quietly alone or with loved ones, reminiscing.

Whatever you do, know that your work is valued and that YOU — as people — are valued. Know that all of us faculty here at the UI are so proud of you. We’ve missed you this semester.

Now go forth, 2020 Hawkeyes, and let your lights shine in this world. Wings out.

Go Hawks!


Corey Hickner-Johnson, Ph.D., Rhetoric Department

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