Pandemic Graduates Deserve An Extra Round Of Applaus



By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Graduations are special occasions. They are full of great pomp and circumstance. In fact, they are unforgettable.

They have a life of their own and will live on forever.

While many years ago, I can remember each of my exercises. They were filled with relief and exhilaration.

My journey through the educational maze was complete. That was the relief. The joy and happiness associated with reaching my goal felt wonderful. That was the exhilaration.

As I reflect on my graduation experiences, they were attended by my family and friends. Having them at these grand moments in my life was important.

I had never given any thought to people not attending graduation programs as I am an old school guy.

Like you, COVID-19 took me by surprise. The surprise was how much it effected our daily lives.

Children and schools go together. However, the Coronavirus put a sudden stop to traditional learning. Students were at home and so were teachers.

Virtual learning was a new term on the educational landscape. It meant being in front of a computer screen for both students and teachers.

Teachers have received over the years undo and unjust criticism. Being a teacher is not an easy job to have. During my professional life I was proud to have been a teacher.

Preparing lessons, meeting with parents, engaging different learning styles are just some of what teachers do each day.

If you are successful at anything, you can probably point to a teacher who motivated you along the way.

Parents have become the strongest supporters of teachers. This was especially true during the pandemic. They saw a small sample size of what teachers do each day when their child leaves home.

Teachers have always been beacons of hope and inspiration. They challenge us and they love us too.

Students have had to learn differently during this period. There was an adjustment they had to make. Was it difficult? I believe it was, but they were undaunted in their pursuit of knowledge.

Now they have reached the pinnacle and their hard work paid off. The assignments, technical difficulties and frustrations are now behind them.

They are now graduates of the class of 2021. They made it.

Traditional graduations gave way to zoom graduations. Graduation parties gave in to drive up shout outs.

Blocks and streets had signs up congratulating students who had achieved their goals. Yet the quest for better continues.

Going to college for many students of color in some areas continues to be problematic.

Audrey Dow, senior vice president at Campaign for College Opportunity said, “The most vulnerable students who have the most to gain from a college education are bearing the brunt of the pandemic effects. If the federal government, states, colleges and universities do not step up in intentional ways to support low-income students of color to enroll and stay in college, we will see these disparities in college enrollment persist.”

Her comments were made based upon a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center analysis and participating colleges.

Education must be a focus for people of color. Further training will provide us with a better and brighter future.

All statistics show that education matters and makes a difference.

Congratulations to graduates as they took another step forward on their road to success. They are believing it and now they are achieving it. Make education a part of your family’s legacy.

Remember this about an education. Once you attain it, it cannot be taken away. It is yours forever. Always keep a goal in front of you. Stay thirsty for acquiring new skills and competencies. You have only just begun!