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A University of Georgia graduate smiles as she watches her fellow graduates turn their tassels. The University of Georgia welcomed 1,575 undergraduates and 1,224 graduate students during its fall 2018 commencement ceremonies. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rac86114@uga.edu)

After four years of blood, sweat and tears, I’m finally graduating from the University of Georgia. But the departmental graduations for my family to attend and hear my name called out is much more difficult than it needs to be.

See, I’m a double major in ecology and English. I will attend two graduation ceremonies in addition to commencement on May 10 at 7 p.m. My first ceremony is for English on May 9 at 4 p.m. preceding ecology on May 10 at 3:30 p.m. They span Thursday and Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. — both work days for my parents.

My parents live in Milledgeville, about an hour and a half away, but they can fortunately finagle their schedule to come support me. My other immediate family members, such as my brother and aunt, can’t come because of work. Should the family of other students live farther away and not be able to take off time, they won’t be able to support the loved one who worked hard to graduate.

Departmental graduations come at inconvenient times and dates for the family of graduates. And I’m not the only one feeling this way.

“My mom has to take time off work, and some of my other family members from North Carolina will have to [take time off work] too,” said Emily Morrow, a senior English major.

Morrow’s mother works as an Athletic Clerk at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, about two hours away from Athens. While Morrow’s family views her graduation as a special occurrence worth taking time off for, her loved ones will still need to travel and find parking in Athens to actually see her.

Danny McArthur, a former Red & Black culture writer, has a more difficult time getting family members to their graduation ceremonies. McArthur is a senior journalism major. Journalism majors have their commencement on Wednesday, May 8, at 3 p.m. McArthur’s mother, a school teacher, is already taking time off work to attend the May 10 commencement.

“It definitely made it harder for me to get family members to the Grady commencement … it makes it so I have to make my mom pick and choose which she has to come to,” McArthur said.

Rather than maintaining inconvenient times and dates, departments should do what the LGBT Resource Center did during Lavender Graduation to celebrate graduates with LGBT ties. The ceremony was held on Saturday, April 27 so all parking was free on campus. The ceremony was also at 2 p.m., so out of town family members had plenty of time to travel that morning.

McArthur was the undergraduate speaker for Lavender Graduation. They and their mother were able to easily attend the ceremony. Since their mother had a three-hour commute and didn’t like driving in the dark, the afternoon time was convenient as well.

More departments should follow the LGBT Resource Center’s lead and make their graduations on weekends during the afternoon before finals. Parking is free, it’s less likely people will be scheduled to work and out of town family members have plenty of time to get to and leave Athens. It makes sense for everyone.

Getting through college is already stressful, so difficult departmental graduation times shouldn’t inhibit family members celebrating their graduates. 

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