Palisades Credit Union Park Welcomes STAC Seniors

(Photo courtesy Commencement for STAC”s Class of 2021 will be held at Palisades Credit Union Park, home of the New York Boulders.

Anthony Lulgjuraj, Reporter

The time has finally come for St. Thomas Aquinas College’s Class of 2021 to say farewell. After a year of uncertainty and worries about what would happen to the Class of 2021’s Commencement, STAC President Ken Daly announced that Commencement will be taking place at Palisades Credit Union Park which is the home of the New York Boulders. 

Commencement is seen as a major “bittersweet” moment because on one hand you are celebrating your accomplishments and memories of the past four years, but on the other, you are also finishing a chapter of your life. It means that it is time for graduates to turn the page and start on a new journey wherever their career paths take them. Last year’s commencement not being held in person left graduating seniors without the true feeling of celebration and pride. Before the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the world last year, Commencement was a gathering of family, friends, and colleagues to send off the graduating seniors into the real world.

Now, students are ecstatic that they are able to walk across the stage at Commencement with many COVID-19 restrictions still in place to maintain safety.

Michael Rappo, a senior graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Education, explained, “I am extremely grateful for being able to walk at graduation this year. I am also the first person in my family to graduate from college and that is what makes it so special to me.” 

Graduating seniors will be able to have two guests at Commencement but there are some safety precautions in place to ensure that it runs smoothly and effectively without posing a health risk. Each guest must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event or provide proof of full vaccination in order to gain entry into the ballpark. These precautions have been standard throughout the entirety of the pandemic especially in more recent months because of the reopening of bigger venues. 

Earlier in the semester, some students did not think that it would be possible to hold Commencement in-person because of the rise in cases both on and off of campus. As more and more Americans become vaccinated, there has been a significant rise in hope for a return to normal life sooner rather than later. As the semester continues to come to a close, there is much hope for the fall depending how the pandemic trends in the summer months.

This year, Commencement seems to be the first real taste of life before the pandemic. Since March of 2020, the Class of 2021, as well as the entirety of the STAC student body, have endured tough challenges in regards to online courses, not being able to visit a friend’s dorm room, as well as being restricted in terms of student activities. After four years of hard work and dedication, the Class of 2021 finally gets the answer that they craved since the start of their senior year. Palisades Credit Union Park is now the setting for the final page in the chapter of the Class of 2021 as the graduating seniors prepare to embark on their careers.