Dennis Hanno’s Commencement Announcement Sparks Discussion, Hope for Class of 2021

In a recent update to the campus, President Dennis Hanno announced that a cross-campus committee had been exploring multiple options for our 2021 Commencement, with the possibility of an in-person aspect to the ceremony. The email mentioned restrictions to follow the guidance provided by the state, such as limiting attendance to two guests per student and spreading out the awarding of degrees over the day to minimize large gatherings. 

Hanno’s email included that some aspects of the ceremony would continue to be virtual, like speeches and other ceremonial parts, and all aspects of the celebration would be available to view remotely. He also assured students studying remotely that the plan would include them. Hanno said the details would be fleshed out by April 1, with the details updated on the college’s commencement website.

Nellie Boling ’21, David Palombo ’21 and Ian Hamilton ’21 on Senior Celebration Day

The members of the class of 2021 expressed a variety of opinions on the news, and the Wire spoke to four students with different perspectives. 

“I hope that the graduation is memorable. I hope that it’ll be a shining light in a year that’s been kind of dark, kind of bleak, and I hope it’s something that unites the senior class, since a lot of us have been apart, me included. I’ve been remote for a year now, and I haven’t seen some of my friends for over two years now, so I’m really hoping for a memorable, unifying event,” said Marcelle Zaccour Cabal ’21. 

Aba Lypps ’21, SGA President, said, “Well, I didn’t realize how important it would feel to be able to have an in-person graduation, in my high school we never had the cap and gown thing but honestly I’m so excited- that I get to have something special like that, because as I said I didn’t realize how special it would feel until now. 

“Honestly, I’m a student who never had a school graduation before now. so for me, I’m both like, I know I could get over not having an in-person school graduation because I had to do that in high school already due to my personal health issues. You’re upset about it for 2-3 years, but then it’s something you get used to. As I approach my college graduation, I’m finding more and more that I don’t want to have to make that compromise again,” said Adrienne Green ’21. They continued, “I want a senior week with good friends and good times, and I’ll be less worried if there’s better vaccine access in MA by the time we hit May. I love my friends, I will hopefully be vaccinated by the time I see their parents.”

“Having some grand graduation ceremony this year isn’t important to me personally, I’m just grateful to walk away from this pandemic with a diploma. I would be perfectly happy with a virtual ceremony like last year, so I can celebrate remotely with many of my loved ones,” said Rachel Feeney ’21. 

The email also referenced the continued work of the class officers of the Class of 2020 and their attempts to plan an appropriate in-person celebration of their graduation last year. 

Corynne Breen, a member of the class of 2020, hoped that the class of 2021 would be able to celebrate in the way she had not been able to. “I really hope they are able to make some sort of in-person celebration happen, safely of course! The class of 2021 has achieved so much this year and in ways that nobody expected. They deserve everything the college can give them. Congratulations to the class of 2021!” she said.