Tarleton State University spring graduates were expecting to walk the stage in May, proudly wearing their Tarleton regalia and celebrating years of hard work and dedication by earning their degrees.

However, due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Tarleton spring commencement ceremonies were forced to reschedule to early August to be held with the summer graduates.

Tarleton President Dr. James Hurley sent out a letter to spring graduates on April 28, promising students that although their commencement ceremonies were postponed, their academic success would still be honored.

“I can only imagine the array of emotions experienced as you near the end of your senior year,” Hurley’s letter states. “You have dreamed of this moment and deserve to celebrate your success with all the pomp and circumstances that comes with a traditional Tarleton graduation. Commencement is the culmination of your educational journey, the reward for long hours of hard work.

“I promise we will honor your academic success and everything you did to achieve this milestone. We’ll just do it a bit later.”

Along with the letter, Hurley also sent spring graduates a purple cap and tassel, to help distinguish them from the August graduates.

“I love commencement more than any other Tarleton celebrations. And it is my pledge to do it right when we honor you this summer,” the letter states. “It will be a joyous time, complete with academic robes and regalia, speeches by select members of your graduating class and photos with family and friends. The special purple cap and tassel included with this letter will distinguish you as a spring 2020 Tarleton graduate during the August commencement ceremonies.”

Many spring graduates were excited to receive their package from the president – which shows that a small gift can leave a big impact.

“I’m glad that Hurley is taking steps to ensure this moment isn’t completely taken from spring grads. It helps soften the blow a little,” said Sarah Hayner, communication studies graduate.

“My thoughts when I received the cap and letter in the mail – it completely brightened my day,” said Katherine Phillips, kinesiology graduate with a concentration in Coaching, Athletic Administration and Recreation (CAAR). “This whole pandemic and graduation getting postponed really has had me down the last couple days as today, [Friday, May 8] I was supposed to be walking the stage and celebrating with my friends and family. Now, all that celebration is out on hold. Receiving that package made me feel special and excited again about graduation, even if it isn’t until August.”