Senior-Send Off Week to honor “COVID Class” graduating seniors

Sebastian the Ibis teaches the crowd how to do the 'Canes spellout during a pep rally on Oct. 6, 2023. Photo credit: Sharron Lou

The University of Miami “COVID Class” — a nickname given to 2020 graduates — will get a proper farewell this year. Senior Send-Off Week, a packed six days full of events honoring the 2024 graduating class, kicks off at the Lakeside Patio on Monday, April 15 at noon.

“I’m hoping it’s extra special since we didn’t get to have a proper freshman orientation or really even a first football season,” said Natalie Lewis, a senior majoring in Judaic studies and international relations.

Throughout the week, seniors will get to participate in events ranging from volunteering to music and sports. On Tuesday, seniors can stop by Pavia Garage to pick up coffee and breakfast at “Good Morning (Senior), Commuters,” then end the day with senior trivia at the Rathskeller.

Seniors looking to give back to the community can participate in a volunteer fair on Wednesday at the Rock Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. A music-filled Thursday will feature a “Senior Patio Jams” at Lakeside Patio and “Senior Day” at the Rat in collaboration with DJ Thursday.

“I’m looking forward to the events at the Rat. My friends and I have spent a good amount of time at the Rat this semester enjoying our last few months and reflecting on our time at UM, so it will be fun to get to do that with more of our graduating class,” Lewis said.

The weekend will start strong with a baseball game dedicated to the senior class as the ’Canes baseball team plays against Louisville at 7 p.m.

Saturday night’s Commencement Ball — held at the Shalala Student Center from 7-11 p.m. — will end the Senior Send-Off festivities. The ball is particularly exciting for some students, especially those who missed out on their senior prom in 2020.

The majority of this year’s UM graduates missed out on high school end-of-year celebrations like prom and award ceremonies, instead receiving their diplomas virtually or via a drive-by commencement.

Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions also hindered a traditional start to college. Instead of the typical socialization, the then freshmen wore masks around campus, experienced a virtual orientation and attended classes from their dorm rooms.

Gabrielle Mraz, a senior majoring in computer science and classics, recalled how the pandemic disrupted the start of her college experience.

“Freshman year, it was hard to meet new people because of the COVID-19 policies,” Mraz said. “I met friends from my floor at Stanford, and the people I am ending my senior year with are the people I’ve only met because of that.”

Whether they are fans of trivia, music and sports or simply graduating this semester, Senior Send-Off will be a week to remember for seniors that will mark the end of their time as undergraduates.

“We were all sad that we missed out on our high school graduation and our freshman year of college, but I think we made the most of our time in college nonetheless,” Lewis said. “May 10 will be extra special for us because we aren’t just walking for our college selves, but for our high school selves as well.”