By Dierdre St. John
Leah Diaz plans to graduate from William Paterson University in January. She had little interest in walking at her commencement ceremony, which would not happen till four months later in May.
But one day, Diaz was sitting around the kitchen table when her mother and father started encouraging her to attend.
“My parents said that I should really walk at my graduation and it will be a day that I can look back on,” said Diaz, a junior psychology major. “My parents told me I would regret skipping it.”
Commencement is a day most students look forward to, a time to celebrate the hard work associated with earning a degree. However, WPU does not offer a special commencement for students who graduate in January. Instead, all students are offered the chance to walk with the spring graduates on May 19.
Many January graduates say they would prefer to just get their diplomas. But some plan to endure the ceremonies – no matter how anticlimactic – for the sake of their parents.
The parents want their children to have the classic end to their university experience: graduation ceremonies that place them at the center of attention as they walk up to the stage with relatives and friends applauding them on.
“Nowadays I believe students mostly do it for their parents so their parents have the chance to show them off and say, ‘That’s my kid!’” Diaz said. “If my mom asked me to walk, I would feel more inclined to walk.”
Nick Leitner, a sports management senior, said that he would rather have his diploma mailed, but he will be attending his graduation because that is what his parents would like him to do.
“I like being individually honored for my accomplishments; I just don’t like the length of the ceremony,” Leitner said. “But I think everyone deserves their own ceremony.”
Nas Yaq, a 2014 William Paterson graduate, explained that students should experience their graduation ceremonies because it celebrates their years of hard work.
“I went to my graduation because I wanted my parents to see me graduate,” Yaq said. “It was cool seeing all the work I did finally come to the end.”