UMass Amherst holds in-person graduations as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – College students across Massachusetts are graduating this weekend, many are virtual but there are some in-person ceremonies. 

The UMass Amherst graduation held on Friday was different, but graduates told 22News after the last year and a half they’ve had, they are just happy to experience some sort of traditional commencement.

Chairs were six feet apart, guests limited to two per graduate, and four separate, smaller ceremonies. 

That was the reality for UMass Amherst’s Class of 2021, but graduates looked past that and focused on the celebration. 

“It really was after an entire year of change and online classes,” said Aidan Gerard of North Salem, NY. “To able to be with the people you care about and really experience your moment, live your graduation.” 

Besides the much smaller crowd, the biggest difference of the day – no physical diplomas were handed out. But that did not matter to graduates they still have that degree. 

Mohamed Gabriel of West Springfield said, “Being getting dressed up makes it even more sweeter. It makes the victory sweeter, I think everybody worked twice as harder as they usually would.” 

After a year and a half of unprecedented times, graduates said it feels good to just be a college graduate. 

“It feels so cool to be at the end of this long road,” said Kieto Mahaniah of Andover. “Especially I’m here with all my friends everyone is popping around running into people it’s really good to see all these faces of other people who also made it after the long journey.” 

So now that the 2021 school year is over, UMass is looking ahead to next year and the campus will be returning to full, normal operations in September. 

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