Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Stephanie Huwyler, a senior at the University of New Mexico, baked a cheesecake on Tuesday.
An interdisciplinary film and digital media major, Huwyler until recently was applying for internships and trying to get accepted into an industry union. But she’s taken to practicing culinary arts and is trying to stay positive while preparing to launch her post-collegiate career in a world of uncertainty because of the spread of the coronavirus.
For Huwyler and her peers, the other shoe dropped late Monday when UNM President Garnett Stokes announced that the school is postponing commencement for spring 2020 graduates.
“That one stings,” Stokes acknowledged on Twitter.
The decision applies to all college and school ceremonies and related activities.
Huwyler, who is from Houston, had planned for her family to attend the graduation ceremony. And she and her close friends had envisioned a party with their families following the commencement.
“Obviously, it’s a really big bummer. I’d like to share this moment with as many people as I can, including my family,” she said. “But right now I just don’t know if that’s going to happen. There’s so much uncertainty going on.”
Stokes, while announcing that the May 16 ceremony would be postponed, said the school is committed to celebrating its 2020 graduating class at some point. Last year, the spring graduation celebrated nearly 4,000 students, ranging from those who earned an associate degree to new doctors graduating from medical school.
“I know that walking across the stage wearing your cap and gown to accept that hard-earned diploma is one of the most significant and memorable parts of the University experience,” Stokes wrote. “We want to ensure that our Lobo class of 2020 is properly recognized and celebrated, especially under these particularly challenging conditions. In the coming weeks, we will engage our students to help develop a creative strategy to honor our spring graduates.”
Huwyler said the decision to cancel the ceremony is “obviously for the best.”
But it was nonetheless another blow for the soon-to-be graduates, many of whom are worried about entering the workforce right now.
“My medical field friends are looking good,” she said. “A lot of my (fine arts) peers and I are very stressed that we may have to face unemployment.”
The university is planning on having students complete their studies this semester remotely. Stokes said in her message that students who are approaching graduation will be able to complete their degrees.
“Please know that we recognize the stress created by the transition to remote instruction and we continue to welcome ideas and feedback about how best to serve our students in their varying circumstances,” she wrote.
Anthony Jackson contributed to this report.