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Nichols College honors the Class of 2020 at virtual celebration

Watch the Nichols College Class of 2020 Celebration on YouTube

DUDLEY, Mass. – On May 2 at 10 a.m., Nichols College hosted a live event on YouTube to celebrate the Class of 2020. Drawing more than 750 viewers – a number that has since quadrupled – the celebration, which was held on the same day and time of the expected in-person graduation, served as a symbolic conferral of degrees until it is safe for the college to reschedule the traditional ceremony. 

The strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” may not have been playing, but the class marched to a hipper beat during the 30-minute montage of photos that preceded the main virtual event, which featured inspirational remarks and salutes from faculty and staff.

Motivational messages of hope, strength, and resiliency permeated the remarks. “Many lives have been upended by the pandemic, and our hearts ache for those most affected. But think about this capstone course on life that you’ve experienced this semester, along with your other Zoom courses,” said Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemeyer, Ph.D. “While you’ve learned lessons of fear and loss, you’ve also found courage, hope and a greater sense of community.

“You will not only get past this,” she continued, “But you will be stronger because of how these past two months have shaped you. And you are more prepared than most to come out on top because your resilience has enabled you to succeed in the face of adversity.”

Class valedictorian Jessica Larsh and class speaker Taylor Ward also addressed their fellow graduates. “As I reminisce back on all the amazing memories I’ve made at Nichols, I know that they will not be my last,” said Larsh, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a specialization in finance. “I hope that this experience we are all going through can bring our class closer together and make our return, whether it be for in-person graduation or on Homecoming weekend, something we can cherish more than we have ever imagined.”

Ward, who earned a BSBA with specializations in management and hospitality management, said of her classmates, “We gave a lot, left our legacy like they told us to, but we didn’t know how much more we would gain. An education, endless networks, role models, opportunities and countless memories, but most importantly, we got a family…. That is something COVID-19 will never and can never take away from us.” 

Janet Newman, academic advisor at Nichols, was asked by members of the graduating class to represent faculty and staff.  Referencing a quote from the late American television personality and educator Fred Rogers about the comforting presence of caring helpers in times of disaster, Newman reminded the graduates of all of the people who have helped them throughout their Nichols journey, concluding with, “Every professor or facilities worker or cleaning staffer or administrative office employee who went the extra mile to do something for you when you knew it wasn’t just that they were doing their job, but that they were doing more .... that was someone who cared and that was someone who was a Helper...and that is Nichols.”

Speeches were followed by pre-recorded congratulatory messages from faculty and staff, a closing toast led by President Engelkemeyer to the “amazing Class of 2020” and a scrolling list of all graduates. 

About Nichols College
Nichols College is a college of choice for business and leadership education as a result of its distinctive career-focused and leadership-based approaches to learning, both in and out of the classroom, and through impactful research and professional education. Students thrive in a learning and living environment that is supported by an experiential business curriculum and a strong liberal arts foundation aimed at transforming them into tomorrow’s leaders. In addition to counterterrorism, Nichols offers master’s degrees in business, leadership, and accounting, as well as a range of certificate programs, to promote career advancement for today’s professionals.

Media Contacts
Susan Veshi
AVP, Advancement and College Communications

Jillian Riches
Asst. Director, Public Engagement