A long-awaited commencement for SU’s 2020 graduates
SU class of 2020 finally has commencement
After over a year of waiting, the Syracuse University graduating class of 2020 finally celebrated Commencement in the Carrier Dome on Sunday.
About 7,000 people gathered for the event, which had been canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 2,000 of them were graduates, according to SU News Services Media Manager Keith Kobland. The ceremony also honored the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry graduates.
Students greeted and hugged each other as they walked around the field waiting for the ceremony to start. Irmak Turanli, an architecture graduate from Istanbul, said she felt “amazing.”
“It’s so good to see my professors and my friends and the campus,” she said.
Though many students, including Turanli, held graduation ceremonies with their friends and family at home during May of last year, the field buzzed with excitement.
“I think we all moved on so I was happy that we have a graduation, but it wouldn’t be the end of my life if we didn’t have it, ” she said.
Some students decorated their mortarboard hats with quotes and words like “Nevertheless, she persisted,” and “finally”, recalling the resilience demonstrated through the last year and a half of virtual and hybrid classes.
Not all graduates felt as joyful as their fellow classmates. Mechanical engineering graduate Brandon Bushey called the event “bittersweet.”
“It’s obviously good to almost get that closure after the past year and a half,” he said. “At the same time, it’s kind of tough to come back and see everything has moved on and that sort of thing.”
Bushey said he was excited about sitting in the Dome with his friends.
“I haven’t seen them in way too long,” he said.
In his short greeting, Chancellor and President Kent Syverud said this ceremony was “finally and properly honoring the class of 2020.” He emphasized the importance of family and friends through struggles.
“You know who you can count on when the world turns upside down,” he said.
University Scholar Serena Omo-Lamai said she never thought she would be “delivering my speech a year and a half after I wrote it.” The bioengineering major from Lagos, Nigeria also introduced a short video highlighting the effect of the pandemic on SU’s students.
New York State’s first female governor and SU graduate Kathy Hochul ‘80 delivered the Commencement address. She graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
“Yes, you’ve heard the words endurance and perseverance,” Gov. Hochul said to the graduates. “Today, they may just be words, but they’re part of your soul now. Because whenever things get tough, you say, ‘yeah, but I got through the pandemic. I got this.’”
The ceremony also recognized Daniel A. D’Aniello and Kevin Richardson with honorary degrees. D’Aniello, for his work in global business and philanthropy, and Richardson for his work in criminal justice reform.