PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, people are missing out on many highly-anticipated life events. For graduating college seniors of the class of 2020, the pandemic means canceled graduation ceremonies.
Roommates attending Brigham Young University knew their friends’ accomplishments needed to be celebrated, so they decided to throw their own commencement ceremony
Lindsey Maughan graduated from BYU in April 2019. She said her own graduation day wasn’t a huge priority. She was searching for a new job, planning a wedding and trying to find a new place to live around the same time. She even had a job interview set up a few hours before she walked the graduation stage.
Maughan said she feels everyone’s life is so stressful around graduation time that it doesn’t always feel real. She said when a fellow roommate, Megan Lomax, texted her about putting on a little graduation for their friends, she was excited and eager to help.
“They deserved a moment to celebrate and to be recognized. Megan is a saint, and did so much work. We had food, a balloon arch, speeches, and pretend diplomas. We even found my old cap and diploma holder, so that we could take pictures,” Maughan said.
“I know that it wasn’t the same as a traditional graduation: their families couldn’t physically attend, they didn’t hear from the dean of their college, there were only seven people, and we only had two caps and no gowns. But I think we got the general gist of things. We are so excited for and proud of the four graduates. I can’t wait to see where they go next!”
Roommate Megam Lomax said during the few weeks when all large group events were being canceled, her heart went straight to her roommates who were supposed to be graduating from BYU at the end of April and to her sister, who is graduating from high school.
“Graduation is such a special time to celebrate a lot of hard work. How sad that something you have worked for so many years is suddenly taken from you,” Lomax said.
She said as graduation time neared, she decided she wanted to do something for them.
“I’ll speak for all of us in saying we wouldn’t have made it through college without each other. The tears, failed tests, overwhelming feeling of homework, the good grades, the internships… all the ups and downs of college we experienced together. I feel very fortunate that we are all such great friends!”
Lomax said planning the small graduation ceremony and lunch in her front yard was a very simple way for her to express her gratitude for her roomates.
“They deserve the best! They have worked hard and I’m so proud of them! And the best part of all is I know that they would do the same for me too (fingers crossed we’re not still in a pandemic in a couple semesters),” Lomax laughed.
“If we have learned anything over the last 4 years of college it’s that a lot of times things don’t always go as planned so you do the best with the situation you’re in and most of the time it turns out better!”
Maddie Paulsen is one of the roommates that Megan and Lindsey recognized in their front yard graduation ceremony. Maddie said they pulled out all the stops to make it special.
“They made little invitations for us, told us to dress up and that we would have lunch and a girls night. Little did I know they would go all out,” said Paulsen.
Her roommates made signs, set up chairs, set a beautiful table and made yummy food. “There were speeches, music, flowers, and they even got us some caps and diplomas to take pictures with,” Paulsen added.
Paulsen said after graduating she’s planning on taking some time off in the summer and then will start working as a nurse this coming September.
“I feel lucky that I was able to get a job secured before the pandemic hit because many of my friends are finding that even hospitals aren’t hiring new grads right now,” she said.
Paulsen said she was excited and touched by her roommates’ unexpected gesture.
“I was so excited for the day and thought it would be fun, which it was, but what I didn’t expect is how much closure I felt after. It was nice to have our accomplishments recognized with a pseudo graduation.”