Celebrating the Class of 2020

At the start of spring semester each year, I look towards May with anticipation of the day when I can celebrate Commencement with a new class of Middle Georgia State University graduates. While this spring was certainly no different from its predecessors when it started, the deviation from the norm over the past few months has been extreme. On this day when I would ordinarily be looking out over a proud assemblage of graduates, their families, and my colleagues, I am instead celebrating our 600 graduates from afar and sending my congratulations virtually.

We continue to observe the rules and restrictions forced upon us by COVID-19, rules requiring a most unorthodox celebration of our Spring 2020 graduates. We do this in the interest of safety and preserving wellness for ourselves and those around us – for a time in the future when we can once again safely resume our face-to-face lifestyles.

The postponement of the Class of 2020’s Commencement ceremony does not, however, diminish the accomplishments of this remarkable group of students, nor does it diminish in any way the pride we feel in these Knights earning their degrees. The unprecedented circumstances under which they’ve completed their studies, in fact, makes them a special group. Commencement implies a new beginning. In truth, our graduating students have already begun in recent months, like the rest of the MGA community, to understand and act in the world in new ways. They are ready for a lifetime of changes, and their education has equipped them with the adaptability their lives will require.

Maya Angelou once wrote, “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.” How apt that thought today, as we take encouragement from the knowledge that we are stronger than the adversity that we face. In seeing a new class of graduates finish their time with us under less-than-ideal circumstances, in seeing the end of a term in which our considerable adaptability was taxed in so many unforeseen ways, and in seeing the ways in which we navigated those waters together successfully, may we see also our path towards returning to normalcy, to togetherness, and to a brighter future.

Knights at MGA stand as tall and towering and confident as the legendary knights of old. It was adversity that defined their strength. Today, that principle still applies – with the shield of education providing strong protection against life’s challenges.

To the Spring Class of 2020, I say again “Congratulations!” and extend my best wishes for a bright and prosperous future. I hope you all continue to stay connected to one another, stay blessed with family and friends, and stay well.