NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Right as Vanderbilt University's Class of 2020 was starting to purchase their graduation robes, COVID-19 disrupted the end of their semester and canceled graduation ceremonies.
Saturday was a chance to make up for lost time. Each graduate was allowed to invite two family members or friends to sit in the stands. Strict social distancing measures and mask wearing was required. Those who weren't able to attend could watch a live stream online.
"To the members of the Class of 2020, Welcome Back! We made it. You’re here," exclaimed Susan Wente, former Interim Vanderbilt Chancellor and current Provost.
This time last year when much of Nashville was still staying safer at home, many of the students were forced to do that too. So "graduation," or the facsimile of that, was condensed to a ten minute pre-recorded video.
A full year later, this ceremony made up for lost time, by honoring the time that was lost. "You were asked to adapt, completing your final courses online, you were pioneers of a new learning landscape," said Wente, during her commencement remarks.
Fittingly, Wente found a way to teach one final lesson for these already graduated graduates. "Those laudable characteristics will be with you forever. They will be a well from which you can continually draw from for years ahead," she said.
Not all of the Class of 2020 could make it in person, but they still made sure that everyone was honored. Students in absentia submitted photos for a slideshow that aired after the in-person graduates walked the line.
"Please join me in congratulating these remarkable graduates," Wente told the crowd.
If you'd like to watch the full ceremony, click here.
The Class of 2021 will be celebrated next Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.