The University of Connecticut celebrated its graduating class on Saturday. How they did it though was completely unique and virtual. Instead of assembling on the Storrs campus, thousands of students watched their graduation ceremony through the internet.
Streaming from an empty Jorgensen Theater, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas addressed the class.
“Greetings class of 2020 and welcome to the first virtual commencement in the history of the University of Connecticut,” said Katsouleas.
In a speech laced with humor, Katsouleas heaped praise on what will be the first graduating class under his presidency.
“What has impressed me above all about the class of 2020 is your motivating passion for taking on the grand challenges of the world,” he said.
It is a class facing unprecedented challenges. Perhaps though an opportunity. In the eyes of the governor, its a chance to learn by living through history.
“You have an opportunity to look forward, see how the world has changed because of COVID and see how you can make the world a better place,” said Governor Lamont during a taped address for the presentation.
Those graduating on Saturday understand challenge, some saying they’ve grown up around it.
“Many of us grew up on the heels of 9/11, learned our ABCs against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters,” said 2020 UCONN graduate and commencement speaker Wanjiku Gatheru.
Saturday’s obstacles though have not diminished her spirit.
“To the class of 2020 or as we like to call it, 'the COVID Class,' let’s accept this challenge and continue to have the audacity to strive for a world that is worthy for all of us,” Gatheru said.
Adversity, as all great coaches know, make people stronger and those were the words of one of UConn’s greatest motivators.
“It’s great to be uncomfortable because that’s when you find out just how great you can be,” added Geno Auriemma, addressing the class.
On the UConn website there was one final message. It said, “this class won’t be defined by the final months of its final semester, but by all the things its members did here at UConn – and all the things they’ll do in the years to come.”