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CSUMB plans a joyous, safe and moving send-off for its graduates

Students' graduation decorated caps
Students' graduation decorated caps

By Walter Ryce

Published April 29, 2021

It is an aspiration of every college student.

To one day sit before teeming crowds filled with their family, friends, educators and mentors, to listen alongside their cohorts to inspiring speeches, hear their name called out on a sound system, to walk across a stage in cap-and-gown to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and to be handed their college diploma by their university president.

And to pose for pictures of it all to capture the moment.

But as we’ve learned during this pandemic, we sometimes have to delay our aspirations for a greater good.

Last year — after switching off in-person work and instruction and following shelter-in-place orders, and with COVID-19 spreading and growing — commencements happened in separate or virtual spaces or via pre-recorded video.

There’s been much progress in this past year, but the pandemic is not yet behind us. In a recent email letter to graduates, President Eduardo M. Ochoa revealed early details about CSUMB’s May 22 commencement, which merges safety, celebration and togetherness.

“Monterey County health guidelines continue to keep the campus closed and for that reason, commencement will take the form of a car parade, similar to what other CSU campuses are doing,” Ochoa stated.

Graduates are asked to register for the car parade, which is being known as a "carmencement," before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 2nd. More information about the parade, including its route, will be sent to the email they register with.

Hayley Azevedo, who works out of the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, says that all students will be invited to a traditional face to face ceremony once it is safe to host one. But as of the week of April 26, 936 graduates have RSVPed their attendance to the carmencement parade.

It is taking place at Lot 59 (which has served as a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru site for the county) and all graduates and their guests are asked to occupy one vehicle.

“Now the size of the vehicle can be anything,” Azevedo says. “We would love to see limos, buses, etc!”

As always, faculty and staff will be on hand to cheer them on, though this time they will be masked and socially distanced; the celebratory vibe will be struck by decorations, banners and a 7-hour playlist of music chosen by the students; and each graduate will be handed a diploma cover (the actual diploma, per tradition, is mailed to students 2-3 months after graduation).

Azevedo says the event is slated to begin at 9am and end by 3pm, and students can join the vehicle line until 2pm. But they are being encouraged to attend at the specific times below to be among their classmates and faculty in their colleges:

  • 9am College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Cinematic Arts, Humanities and Communication, Global Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • 9:45am College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Japanese Language and Culture, Music, Psychology, Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures, Visual and Public Art
  • 10:30am College of Science
  • 11:30am College of Business
  • 12:30pm College of Health Sciences and Human Services
  • 1:30pm College of Education

University Police Department officers will be on hand to deal with any medical emergencies. If any vehicles have mechanical troubles, there will be room for them to pull over and a university cart will transport the graduate along the route. And restrooms will be placed outside of the Lot 59 parking lot.

In addition to checking email for details, graduates can visit the commencement webpage to see student slides and college videos, and email any questions to the event team.

Congratulations, graduates! Remember to register for the carmencement parade before 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 2nd.

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