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Although the cheers and hugs happened in private homes, the Carthage community very publicly honored the Class of 2020 with a video send-off.

Jasmine Ratcliff ?20 Jasmine Ratcliff ’20The pre-recorded Virtual Commencement ceremony, which the College made available on May 23, can be viewed on demand through June 30. A traditional celebration will be held on campus at a later date.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on mass gatherings still looming, speakers acknowledged the disappointment of being unable to gather in person. But they reminded the 623 new graduates not to let the circumstances dampen the feelings of pride and excitement.

Distinguished Senior Award winner Kamren Smith ’20 reflected on the “wild ride” that his class just completed.

“Since we all have lost out on opportunities these past few months — whether it be losing a job, missing a planned event, or even just missing the chance to create those last few memories with your friends here at Carthage — I encourage you all to stay flexible and to maintain the strength that our hope provides us during times of hardship,” he said in the senior class address.

Chosen for the award from a pool of 26 finalists, the finance and management major from Joliet, Illinois, has made the dean’s list every semester. In addition, Mr. Smith earned academic all-conference honors each season while rising to team captain as a sprinter on the men’s track and field team.

Representing the faculty, management and marketing professor Greg Barron noted that only 7 percent of the world’s population holds a college degree. He urged the graduates to view their education as both a privilege and a responsibility.

“Our communities are counting on you to do amazing things,” he said. “Congratulations on your graduation and very best wishes for a meaningful life — a life full of purpose, fulfillment, and impact.”

Academic leaders preserved tradition by announcing each graduate’s name, grouping them by the degrees they earned: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Education, Master of Music (music theatre vocal pedagogy), and Master of Science (business). This was the first cohort to complete the M.M. program.

In his closing remarks, President John Swallow shared excerpts from a few of the heartfelt thank you notes that graduates wrote to their Carthage mentors. He assured members of the Class of 2020 that the gratitude goes both ways.

“You’ve shown yourself strong, talented, resilient,” he said. “You’ve shown yourself capable of persevering under pressure, of completing the game when the rules change, of keeping the show going on, no matter what.”

Jaxon Stout ?20

Commencement 2020