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2020 Commencement ceremony

Meredith College Celebrates Commencement for Two Classes

By Melyssa Allen

Meredith College Celebrates Commencement for Two Classes

By Melyssa Allen

Meredith College held a total of 11 ceremonies over three weekends in May to celebrate Commencement for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021.

Each event was held in the courtyard behind Johnson Hall. Beginning in 2013, Commencement exercises were held in larger off-campus venues to accommodate the increasing size of the graduating classes, making the 2021 events the first Meredith Commencements to be held on campus in many years. Three ceremonies were held for the Class of 2020 on May 1-2, four hooding ceremonies for graduate programs were held on May 8, and four ceremonies were held for the Class of 2021 on May 15-16.

Photos from the Hooding Ceremonies

COVID-19 safety protocols including physical distancing and wearing face coverings were in place for the events. Multiple ceremonies were held in order to comply with capacity limits.

President Jo Allen, ’80, and Chaplain Stacy Pardue spoke at each event, and the class presidents addressed their fellow graduates. Provost Matthew Poslusny announced graduate names as he does every year, giving each person their moment in the spotlight.

“Our goal was to provide both of the graduating classes from the last two years with as much of the traditional commencement experience as possible,” said Poslusny. “The ceremonies were focused on celebrating the graduates and all their achievements.”

2020 Graduates Return to Celebrate One Year Later

Photos from the Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremonies

Nearly 200 members of the Class of 2020 returned for the in-person Commencement ceremonies a year after completing their degrees. In May 2020, Meredith College held a virtual degree conferral ceremony and daylong celebration of this class, but the College came through on its promise of a face-to-face opportunity as soon as pandemic conditions allowed.

Class of 2020 President Alli Barrow spoke on behalf of the graduates. Tying her remarks to Meredith’s “Going Strong” brand, Barrow said the experience of finishing their degrees and starting their careers during a pandemic had made the class “Strong AND… .”

Barrow said her class has gained a different outlook and a stronger sense of themselves.

“Although the events of the last year have been far from what we all expected and hoped for, there has been a silver lining,” Barrow said. “As you have since embarked on what life had next for you … your strength, flexibility, adaptability, and resilience have set you apart. It has made you a better employee, student, friend, person.”

Class of 2021 Faced Challenges with Strength

Photos from the Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremonies

During commencement exercises for the Class of 2021, Class President Lindsey Lewis, ’21, acknowledged in her speech to the class the difficulties of finishing college during a pandemic.

“In any normal year, graduating is a huge accomplishment, but anyone who has lived through the pandemic knows the unique challenges we have faced,” Lewis said. “Earning our degree has taken a huge amount of commitment, determination, and a consistent work ethic. Watching everyone persevere through these adversities has encouraged me to keep going.”

Lewis said the achievements of her class prove their strength.

“This has set us up to go into the world achieving dreams, breaking barriers, and accomplishing anything we set out to achieve. Class of 2021, we are entering the world stronger than ever.”

There were 438 members of Meredith’s Class of 2021, including 365 undergraduates and 73 graduate students. Students who were completing their degrees in December 2020, May 2021, and August 2021 were eligible to participate in Commencement ceremonies.

What’s Next?

Three recent graduates have received Fulbright grants to conduct research and teach English in Spain, the Netherlands, and South Korea. Graduates have been accepted into graduate and professional programs at a range of schools including NYU Tandon School of Engineering, East Carolina University, NC State University, Campbell Law School, UNC-Chapel Hill, Meredith College, Virginia Commonwealth University, The New School, and George Washington University School of Nursing. Others have accepted professional positions at top firms and organizations including Rathell Designs, VisionPoint Marketing, MetLife, Raleigh Parks and Recreation, Henderson Collegiate, VeraSci, First Citizens Bank, Saga AmeriCorps, and the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Unit.

Watch the archived live streams of all of Meredith’s Commencement ceremonies

Watch the 2020 Commencement highlight video

Watch the 2021 Commencement highlight video