The last semester of senior year is supposed to be a memory machine. You’re supposed to pack all of the activities and friends and classes that made you love the University of Connecticut into one perfect, sunkissed semester. It’s supposed to be a beautiful send off to the next phase of life.
It’s not supposed to be cut short by a global pandemic. It’s not supposed to finish online and it’s certainly not supposed to culminate in a Minecraft commencement (although that is pretty cool).
Walking across the stage, even amongst the poor acoustics of Gampel Pavilion and amidst an hours-long ceremony, is supposed to be the culminating moment in every UConn student’s life. You take pictures with your friends and throw your hat in the air. Even those who have a critical outlook on this school, and yes, even those who shouted “Thanks Susan” from the rooftops whenever they flunked a test, can appreciate that moment.
That moment has been stolen from the class of 2020 by an incomprehensible tragedy.
But despite this incredibly unfortunate situation, we know that the class of 2020 is resilient.
They arrived at UConn in the fall of 2016, arguably one of the most tumultuous periods in our nation’s recent history, and are graduating today with the dark cloud of the coronavirus pandemic over their heads. They saw the end of one president’s term and the beginning of the next, both in the United States and here at UConn. They witnessed the women’s basketball team endure Final Four heartbreak three times. The class of 2020 includes UConn’s first ever Rhodes Scholar. They led protests, marches and sit-ins demanding better mental health services, racial justice and climate action.
They are resilient.
The class of 2020 will also graduate into perhaps the worst job market of all time, joining millions of Americans looking for work during a global pandemic. They will carry thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loan debt into the most unstable economy we’ve known. Processing the trauma of everyone close to us impacted by this crisis, we move forward into a new, unknown world.
But there is no group more capable of addressing these challenges than UConn graduates.
We have an immense amount of faith in the intelligence, creativity and resilience of this class. The doctors, artists, economists, professors, baristas, lawyers and activists that this class produces will make Husky Nation proud.
Cheers to the class of 2020!