Yankee Stadium to host commencement for 2020, 2021 graduates

NYU’s class of 2020 and the class of 2021 are invited to an in-person graduation at Yankee Stadium on May 18, 2022, following two years of virtual ceremonies.

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NYU president Andrew Hamilton spoke at the commencement of class of 2019 at Yankee Stadium in May 2019. Class of 2020 and 2021, which held their commencements online due to COVID-19, are invited to join the in person commencement of class of 2022 in May 2022. (Photo by Alana Beyer)

Kashish Bhatia, Staff Writer

Following two years of virtual graduation ceremonies, NYU announced that a joint in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 and class of 2021 will take place on May 18, 2022, at Yankee Stadium. More details about safety protocols, tickets and individual school events will be announced later this year. 

In an email announcing the ceremony, President Andrew Hamilton acknowledged the disappointment felt by recent graduates and affirmed the university’s promise to reschedule an in-person graduation once health guidelines allowed for safe gatherings.  

“We look forward to welcoming you and your classmates and loved ones to celebrate your achievement, and to do so in the location that has long served as NYU’s iconic graduation venue,” Hamilton wrote in the email. 

Hamilton said the ceremony will be livestreamed for graduates unable to attend in person. Graduates and guests are also invited to the university’s “Grad Alley,” a street fair around the Washington Square campus, the day before the ceremony. 

“We recognize that, for some, returning to New York after you left campus may present scheduling and logistical challenges,” Hamilton wrote. “But we intend to honor all members of the Class of 2020 and 2021, even those who may not find it possible to join us.”

Sandra Liu, a class of 2021 graduate, said she is excited to finally celebrate her accomplishments in person surrounded by friends and family.

“I am really excited for an in-person graduation, even if it is a year late,” Liu said. “Being able to invite all of my friends and family to see me get my diploma is the greatest feeling, and I can’t wait to celebrate properly with my class. I’m also really happy that NYU is taking the time out to celebrate us. We deserve this.”

In 2020, the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to hold an in-person commencement and all graduation events were moved online. The 2021 graduation a year later was widely expected to be in person. Other colleges hosted in-person events in May with some restrictions. NYU kept much of its graduation programming virtual despite calls for an in-person celebration, citing seating limitations at Yankee Stadium.

Many graduates said they’ve entered a new phase of their lives in the years since they graduated, and an in-person ceremony now would be unsatisfying. Eugenia Yang, a class of 2020 graduate, said that attending an in-person ceremony now seems pointless after graduating online.

“I’m happy that they’re trying to give us some sort of ceremony, but I live across the country and don’t even know if I can make it yet,” Yang said. “I also think the specialness of graduation is kind of gone, at least for me. I feel more adult now than I did in 2020 and to be invited to graduation now seems pointless since it was so long ago.”

For international students, the announcement is a welcome one, but comes with its own challenges. The student visas of most international student graduates have expired, making it difficult for them to attend. Itzel Villalvazo, who also graduated in 2020, said she can only attend because she happens to have a U.S. tourist visa.

“Going back years later just doesn’t feel the same, but at least we’re getting something instead of the YouTube video we got two years ago.”   Itzel Villalvazo

“Luckily, my tourist visa expires a few months later, so it’s just in time for me to attend,” she wrote in a text message to WSN. “Currently in my country, they’re not renewing visas because of COVID-19, so I wouldn’t have been able to go if it was a few months later.”

Villalvazo also felt that the excitement of graduating had dissipated, but said that something is better than nothing.

“I feel like my life’s changed so much since I graduated,” Villalvazo said. “Going back years later just doesn’t feel the same, but at least we’re getting something instead of the YouTube video we got two years ago. That was the biggest disappointment ever.”

Contact Kashish Bhatia at [email protected]