Tulane holds virtual ceremony to honor Class of 2020

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Ashley Chen | Production Manager

Amy Nankin, News Editor

Saturday afternoon, Tulane University held an online ceremony to honor the graduating Class of 2020, titled “TUgether: Connecting the Class of 2020.” 

The ceremony began with a slideshow of pictures members of the class of 2020 submitted that showcase fond memories of their time at Tulane and a musical performance by Michael White. The address began soon after with a speech given by President Mike Fitts, standing behind a podium in a nearly empty Lavin-Bernick Center, who commended the uniqueness of the Class of 2020. Fitts urged the Class of 2020 to view the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to serve their community, to step up and help others and to help decide how COVID-19 will change the world.

“It’s not what any of us wanted or planned, but this is still Tulane, and this is still New Orleans,” Fitts said. “Resilience is who we are and reinvention is what we do. As the New Orleans Pelicans say, ‘we won’t bow down.’” 

Virtual messages of congratulations and messages of hope were given by celebrities, athletes, alumnus and more. The well-wishers included Madeleine Albright, Ellen DeGeneres, Ashley Longshore, Tim Cook, Kelly Rippa and Drew Brees. 

Fitts continued the celebration with a focus on the Heroes and Helpers, an initiative by the Tulane Administration to recognize members of the Tulane community that went above and beyond to help others during this time of crisis. Fitts recognized Michael Antoine and Tulane EMS specifically, but offered his thanks and support to all students who continue to do what they can while still completing this academic year. 

The commencement continued with videos submitted by members of the class of 2020 who congratulated their fellow classmates and had high hopes for the future. The ceremony concluded with a performance by funk and jazz band Galactic. 

“Even when there is loss, even when there is pain, there is always a reason to dance,” Fitts said. “Finding comfort in times of crisis, finding courage in times of fear, these lessons are gifts from Tulane and New Orleans to take with you for the rest of your life. It’s in your bloodstream, every po’boy, every Mardi Gras throw, every spontaneous second line. We are going to be here with open arms when you come back to see us again.”