Dear graduates (and everyone that loved you to this milestone):
Life can be as difficult as it is joyful. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly added layers of difficulty to your academic, professional and personal lives. Even so, I was moved by the joy you found during it. I talked with so many of you determined to learn, even with new tools you did not think you would like.
We have more than 1,200 graduates this spring. You range from ages 17 to 78. Many of you are the first in your family to earn a college degree. You are veterans who have served our country. You are refugees embracing the American dream. So many of you are parents, raising children while earning your degree. Some of you were courageous enough to come back for a second career. You are hard workers. You learned new skills with new technologies. You are ready to transfer to your university or go directly into the workforce. You are a graduating class defined by these realities.
Knowing these attributes about you give me so much hope in the future of our community and country.
I know it was difficult to manage work, family and education. Yet, each of you did it despite the barriers in your way.
That a pandemic was one of those barriers makes your success even more meaningful.
It would be easy for you as students, and for us as a college, to be defined by the challenges of this pandemic. COVID-19 certainly colored our landscape, but it didn’t change the shape or beauty.
As you transition to the next phase of your life, take more than your classroom learning with you. Take your friendships, support systems, confidence and pride.
This pandemic certainly called you to embrace your determination and to walk in the power of perseverance. And you did so, as college graduates. Congratulations. I am so very proud of you.