Southern Miss senior reacts to postponed graduation ceremony

With many places practicing social distancing, several events and activities are canceled or postponed, including the University of Southern Mississippi’s graduation ceremony.

“I was hurt. I was disappointed because I felt like I had worked my way up twenty plus years trying to get my degree. I finally get it and I can’t even really celebrate.”

Lakeitha Luster is talking about the postponement of her commencement ceremony at the University of Southern Mississippi due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “I’m going to have on a hazmat suit. I’ll have on a gas mask, but I’m marching and then it seems it hit Mississippi and it hit it fast like every day. There were nine and 10 people extra so then it’s like it happened rather fast and then they were like we’re going to postpone the graduation date.”

USM’s spring graduation was to take place May 14th through the 16th, but for the safety of the students things had to change. Luster says it is disappointing because of her journey to reaching this milestone. “I’m a 20 year veteran and during my time in the military I saw the Air Force go from providing 74 percent of our tuition up to 100 percent of our tuition. Technically there’s no reason why I should not have gotten my degree prior to that. Unfortunately I was a shift worker so I was trying to do these online classes and online it’s just not for everyone. So once I finally retired and I fought my little cancer battle I was like well I have nothing else to do so let’s go to school.”

Luster advocated for herself to get into USM’s social work program in 2016. “USM has high standards and after advocating I was able to get in. Applied myself, I like being around everyone. Even though it’s a challenge, school, studying, and hard work, I was able to keep my grades up and I was on the Dean’s List or I was on the President’s List.”

While she isn’t sure when she’ll cross the stage at this time, it’s not stopping her momentum. “Even though the celebration has been postponed, my education does not stop. Of course I’m going to continue on with USM. I’m currently applying to their MSW program and I’m hoping to be able to sit for advanced standing which will allow me to get my Master’s degree within three months. So basically this time next year there will be a graduation and I will be walking in the graduation period.”

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