NCCU's Chancellor Johnson Akinleye announced March 20 that Spring 2020 Baccalaureate and Graduate and Professional Commencement ceremonies are postponed for graduating seniors. Photo Courtesy of NCCU's Official Website (December 2018 Commencement)

Many seniors saddened by postponed Spring 2020 Commencement amidst pandemic precautions

March 22, 2020

As the university takes safety precautions against the Coronavirus-19 pandemic, N.C. Central’s Chancellor Johnson Akinleye announced on March 20 that Spring 2020 Commencement exercises scheduled for Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9, 2020, for Baccalaureate and Graduate and Professional ceremonies have been postponed.

Per Akinleye’s statement, the university’s review of the updated health information from authorities (local, state, and national,) and the advisement from the UNC System leadership prompted the postponement of spring commencement ceremonies. 

“We hope you know that this decision came with careful and thoughtful deliberation and with the safety, health, and well-being of all members of our community as our top priorities,” Akinleye said in his statement that was emailed to students. 

The response to the postponement of N.C. Central’s spring commencement has prompted mixed emotions from many graduating seniors; one of which being Family & Consumer Sciences bachelors candidate Jasmine Godbolt.

“I feel like postponing graduation for the class of 2020 was very disappointing,” Godbolt emphasized. I understand [that] the world is adjusting to a new routine of things but making such an abrupt harsh decision that is so monumental to thousands of students really saddens me.”

In addition, Akinleye’s statement included that graduates and their families can exercise the option of participating in the Fall 2020 (December) commencement exercises or the Spring 2021 (May) ceremonies.

With this option being offered, Godbolt, as well as many other graduating seniors, face the difficult decision to travel back to N.C. Central to participate in future commencement exercises despite the “new chapters” they are entering into. 

“Being that we are seniors, we will all be entering new chapters in life this summer and fall and won’t have the opportunity to walk a whole year later than expected,” Godbolt said. 

Within Godbolt’s heartfelt response to N.C. Central’s spring commencement postponement, she added “Myself, along with my peers, have worked so hard to get to this moment just to have it taken away by unforeseen circumstances.” 

Other graduating seniors, such as Business Administration bachelor’s candidate Chantel Ellison, are disheartened by the cancellation/postponement of irreplaceable life moments that are associated with one’s senior year of college. 

“The big deal for me is actually not being able to have a graduation party just yet, possibly not being able to go on my graduation trip out the country, not able to attend my last spring fling as a senior/ attend the “last” events on campus and not getting as many in-person job interviews as I could be if this pandemic wasn’t happening,” Ellison said.

Ellison, along with Godbolt, illustrated the importance of the “new chapter” in students’ lives that is associated with graduation. 

“It sucks that this is all happening now at what is supposed to be one of the biggest moments of our lives, the moment where a chapter closes and a new chapter starts,” Ellison said. “It’s unfortunate that this pandemic is the cause of a lot of our current worries and the cause for a lot of canceled events that a lot of us were looking forward to.”

Despite the derail in spring commencement ceremonies, many graduating seniors such as Ellison remain hopeful about the future and encouraged to not let this occurrence hold them back. 

“Even though all of this is happening, we have to move on and not let this put us in a hole,” Ellison illustrated. “It’s completely out of our control, and all we can do is pray and leave it to God.”

According to Akinleye’s statement, N.C. Central’s Office of the Registrar will mail diplomas to students who have successfully completed their programs.

In addition, Akinleye’s statement issued that the Office of the Registrar will mail diplomas to students in May who have successfully completed their degree programs and are cleared to graduate at the end of this semester. 

For more additional information and updates, visit  or

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