LOGAN — Nathon Taylor knew early on in the COVID-19 pandemic his chances of walking across a stage in a cap and gown, a diploma case handed to him and roaring claps across the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum wasn’t something he’d be able to experience.
As a first generation student, Taylor dreamed of the day he’d be presented with his college degree. He spent four years at Utah State University working toward a degree in family and consumer sciences and was devastated to hear the news of a canceled graduation for he and his fellow 2020 USU graduates.
Taylor, who ran for a student government position representing diversity and campus organizations and served in several campus housing leadership positions, teamed up with several other recent USU grads and used sidewalk chalk to scratch in the names of each USU 2020 graduate — more than 7,000.
“I feel with a group of 20 people that we can really serve as a great support for all of those students who went through four plus years of college,” he said. “As a first generation student, it was very anticlimactic to end university in the circumstances we currently have.”
The names are written across the campus quad, with graduates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Science and the School of Graduate Studies on the southwest side of the quad, the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and Caine College of the Arts on the north side, the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and Quinney College of Natural Resources on the east side, and College of Engineering and College of Education and Human Services on the southeast side.
“I felt this was a way that we could honor those students who could put in that work,” Taylor said.
While he understands and agrees with the university’s decision to cancel the in-person commencement ceremony planned for the fall, Taylor is still disappointed.
“A majority of us understand why it’s important to practice social distancing and be supportive of the measures the university has put in place, but of course there are unfortunate consequences that come from that that we just have to deal with,” he said.
Taylor received help from 10 other students, including Hannah Roth, who just graduated in exercise science. Roth drew the mural, the “Aggie A” with “class of 2020” written below it.
“I thought it was really great and it was so important to have a way to celebrate the graduates and their accomplishments even if we can’t celebrate together right now,” she said.
USU announced a cancellation last week of the August graduation — postponed from its original April date due to COVID-19 — but said they hope to hold an in-person commencement ceremony when the risk of COVID-19 decreases significantly.