SNU announces in-person commencement

Miranda Jacobson, Editor

Sierra Nevada University announced that its 51st annual commencement will be held in-person on May 15. Hosted on Patterson Lawn, weather permitting, students will be able to have up to two guests watch them graduate in a socially distanced setting.

Dean of Students Will Hoida wrote in an e-mail interview that this year’s commencement will be different from previous years due to new social distancing protocols put in place.

“Last year because of COVID we had to have a virtual ceremony,” Hoida said. “This year we are having to incorporate social distancing and we also have to limit the number of guests that can attend per current regulations in Washoe county.”

Hoida said this commencement would be held similarly to previous years, including a processional, welcome address, and various speeches.

“The biggest challenge will be incorporating social distancing,” he said. While many students will choose to gather on campus to graduate, students also have the option to opt out and have their names and degrees read in absentia by their department chair.

The process of planning commencement began in November with regular meetings twice a month. While committee members have been planning for commencement since last year, many students have been waiting for this moment for the last four years. One of them is senior Kayla Heidenreich. The ODAL major has been focusing on sustainability during her time at SNU, and was just recently named the 2021 valedictorian.

“I recognize that I am an alternative valedictorian,” she said. “I am the oat milk of the whole milk world.”

Some of her accomplishments at SNU include serving as president to the Social Justice Club and the Climate Alliance club among other things. Her activism is something that will continue to thrive outside of her college career.

“I am stoked to graduate. I feel extremely ready to insert myself into the real world and I’m excited for the growth that is going to come with it,” Heidenreich explained.

Heindenreich is among the many students who are both nervous to end their educational journey, but also excited for what’s to come. She’s especially excited about the in-person commencement.

“I’m just happy I get to walk across the stage,” she said. “I’m excited to watch all my friends walk across that stage and be able to take a deep breath and feel accomplished. I obviously wish I could invite all of my loved ones, but in this world I’ll just take what I can get and be grateful for it.”

She’s not the only person excited to walk across the stage. Senior Madalyn Johnson is also counting down the days until commencement.

“I’m excited to celebrate with my family and friends in person,” Johnson said.

Although her parents will be able to tend, Johnson admitted it was difficult to have a cap on the attendance for commencement.

“I understand the rule, however I wish we were able to have more people at the event because only my parents can attend and my grandparents, brother and fiancé cannot,” she said.

The global business management and ski resort business major has spent the last four years in Lake Tahoe, spending her time skiing in the winters and self-admittingly spending too much time at the local sports bar Rookies. But as she winds down to post-college life, she’s most excited to settle down and enjoy her life.

“I will miss my friends and the overall college experience the most,” she said.