Virtual Celebrations Commemorate the Class of 2020 on Previously-Planned Weekend of Commencement
By Phoebe Doscher, Magazine Editor
The Class of 2020, Gettysburg’s senior class who spent a portion of their final semester at Gettysburg finishing their academics online, spent the would-be weekend of Commencement from May 16 and 17 celebrating the end of their four years with virtual celebrations. They tuned in for a 15 minute video program for a degree conferral and remarks from the Class President Callie Fucarino ‘20 and President Bob Iuliano. Departmental receptions via Zoom continued throughout the weekend, and the official Commencement ceremony has been rescheduled for the weekend of Oct. 9-10.
Over 1,000 viewers across YouTube and Facebook combined watched the virtual celebration at 11 a.m. on May 17, and left comments on the videos with congratulations to the new alumni of the College. At the start of the video, faculty and staff members appeared on the screen waving from the stoops of their homes, or masked and waving from a distance on the steps of Penn Hall and Servo, while “This Little Light of Mine,” performed by Gettysburg alumni, played in the background.
Fucarino, the first speaker, reflected on the challenges and perseverance that came from the abrupt end to senior year on campus. She spoke of the disappointment of missing in-person experiences and celebrations, but lauded her classmates for their continued creativity and integrity throughout remote learning.
“I urge you to remember that the last few months have only proven that our community cannot be undermined, that our education from this institution is invaluable, and we have a special place that is really difficult to say goodbye to and will always have a piece of our hearts,” Fucarino said.
President Iuliano addressed the Class of 2020 next, and reminded students that while they will have to wait for an in-person Commencement, they are still honored at this point in time for their contributions to Gettysburg College and for fulfilling their degree requirements. The Class of 2020, he noted, will be known as the class that broke the mold by forming new traditions and adjusting to unprecedented circumstances.
“May you continue to break the mold as you close this chapter in your life and continue to make your mark on a world that needs you, needs your inspiration, needs your innovations, and needs your determination,” Iuliano said.
Iuliano remarked on the significance of the phrase, “when I grow up,” as it pertains to the graduates. He hopes that these early aspirations have been fulfilled throughout their time at Gettysburg, and, for that, the Class of 2020 feels a sense of accomplishment, despite paths taking unexpected routes in the past few months.
“We have seen what is possible when we look ahead, learning from the past, but with a focus on what we might yet achieve,” he said. “It is a lesson deeply ingrained in the very land on which our college rests where the notion of struggle and sacrifice take on a special meaning.”
President Iuliano left the Class of 2020 with two final requests as they enter a new chapter of their lives: glean a sense of pride in their reaction to the unexpected circumstances of the past semester and allow those events to further solidify how important their work is to the world.
“These events, the transitions we have been forced to make, have taught us about ourselves, about our hopes for the world, about how to navigate disappointment, about the importance of human contact,” Iuliano said. “You have grown up, and into the person your childhood self would be proud of. This is the gift of the Gettysburg education.”
Iuliano then conferred degrees for the Bachelor of Arts, Science, Music, and Music Education, inviting the graduates to stand and offering his congratulations.
Following the degree conferral, the video turned to clips of over a dozen faculty members, some dressed in their robes and hats, to share advice, express their gratitude, and congratulate the Class of 2020.
“Continue to invest in education,” Associate Professor of Education Kaoru Miyazawa said, “because nobody can take away what you know, even during the hardest time.”
“Never stop learning,” English Professor McKinley Melton advised. “Never stop growing. Never stop asking the important questions of yourself and everyone around you.”
The video closed with clips of more faculty and staff on doorsteps giving the senior class a round of applause. The final frame contained a Maya Angelou quote for the viewers, “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within,” and a message for Gettysburg’s Class of 2020 to shine bright.