Allegheny Honors Class of 2020 in Commencement Ceremony

Allegheny College’s Class of 2020 was honored today in a Commencement ceremony held on the College’s Bicentennial Plaza.

Allegheny President Hilary L. Link welcomed many graduates from the class back to their alma mater and praised them for their resiliency during the global pandemic that postponed their Commencement, which initially had been scheduled for last year.

“We are here to honor your special place in the history of our College. As students, you excelled as scholars and leaders; you brought life and joy to our campus; you worked tirelessly and with great determination; and you deserve special recognition for the strength and resilience you have shown throughout this unprecedented and challenging time in our world — and our College’s — history,” Link said.

Commencement for the Class of 2020“You have brought distinction to what it means to be an Allegheny student and an Allegheny graduate, through how you have adapted to change and found inner strength and resolve. You have made our College better by your work and engagement. And you have already brought great honor to your College — our College — by your achievements as alumni during the past year,” Link told the graduates.

The Class of 2020 includes a total of 397 graduates. The ceremony was livestreamed for graduates and family members who could not attend in person. Calling it “an incredibly special day,” the president added: “We wish that you could all be together — and I want to take a moment to acknowledge our graduates and their loved ones who are watching the livestream today. No matter the distance, we know that you are with us in spirit — and we in turn are with you.”

Daniella Clarke and Ashley Leonard, two of the graduates, also addressed their classmates.

Clarke, the class president, reminded the graduates that “throughout these four years, we have created countless memories, built unbreakable bonds, cultivated meaningful relationships with professors, and had the chance to create the version of ourselves we want to introduce to the world. … This Commencement stands as a public declaration of a job well done and the ending of a chapter. But just as one chapter ends, a new chapter has officially begun.”

Finishing their senior years studying remotely during the pandemic showed the world, “what it looks like to take lemons and make the sweetest glass of lemonade. We turned our bedrooms into classrooms, our living rooms into our personal libraries, and dining rooms into Brooks [Dining Hall],” said Clarke, who was a neuroscience and psychology major and an economics minor.

Commencement reception near Brooks Hall Leonard, a political science and English major and a psychology minor, said that the 2020–21 year, while challenging, also had presented new opportunities for the class. “The global shutdown provided us all with a bit of space from one another to grow and learn about ourselves,” she said. “And during that time, perhaps you reflected on what you want to do in your field or maybe you’ve decided to switch fields. Perhaps, you have changed your life in healthy ways by adopting new habits and letting go of old ones. Let the knowledge professors here have shown you lead you on a pathway of learning. Never stop learning. But most importantly, learn about yourself.”

Leonard, the class vice president, encouraged her classmates to remember the past as they look to the future. “The past has created you,” she said. “Don’t let the memory and meaning slip away.  By holding onto your past achievements, strength, willpower, struggles, good times, and so on and so forth, your future will be more meaningful.”

In closing, Link shared the traditional charge to the graduates: “Together as the Class of 2020 — as friends and colleagues, joined to generations past and future, move those tassels and proclaim to the world that you are today, tomorrow and always Allegheny.”