KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee students expecting to walk across the stage to get their diploma in May are no longer able to.
The decision to cancel commencement amid the COVID-19 outbreak was made by school officials. UT officials confirm they are working on a commencement ceremony at a later date, but there's no word as to when that plan will be announced or what day it will be.
"The Class of 2020 will be celebrated and their achievements will be recognized. We will keep you posted on these plans," UT said.
Students said they are frustrated and devastated.
Graduation comes with feelings of completion, new beginnings and on to the next chapter, but it's something the class of 2020 won't experience, at least not in May.
"I saw the email and my first response was to start bawling my eyes out," said senior Kayla Parker.
Canceling graduation was a decision she didn't want to hear.
All events for the rest of the semester were canceled on Monday including commencement.
"I've been a Vol fan basically since I was born," said Parker whose dream has always been to graduate from UT. "I had my mind set on UT, not going anywhere else."
She's been a Volunteer fan since birth. Along the way, she's gotten to meet the legends like Pat Summitt and Philip Fulmer.
Students will be finishing classes online for the remainder of the school year, which means her time on campus is over.
"I worked so hard just to get to this semester," said Parker.
She's now cherishing the memories and graduation photos she took earlier this year in her cap and gown, which she may never get to put on for the big day.
Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Philip Fulmer agreed this is frustrating but said it's the best for the Vol community.
"Please take social distancing seriously and protect those most vulnerable to this highly contagious virus. If you need help reach out. We are all on the same team. It is time to pull together and show the world what it means to be a Volunteer," said Fulmer in a video message on Tuesday.