Inspiring speeches. Mortar caps and academic gowns. The resonant notes of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.” Graduation is marked by many traditions. But when fellow Panthers realized that 2020 graduates would not be able to enjoy all these traditions this May due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, they knew they had to reach out virtually.
“These traditions are what unite us across classes and across generations,” says Andi Doddridge, director of Alumni Engagement. “We want graduating students to know that even though their academic journey at Chapman is coming to a close, the Chapman Family will be here to support them, now and in the future.”
Messages from alumni, parents and other members of the Chapman Family have been gathered and shared with the graduates online, applauding them for their strength and perseverance as they completed their final semester under challenging circumstances.
“Panthers are strong and courageous. The Class of 2020 is unique in the challenges you have overcome. Remember, once a panther is always a panther!” — Angie Quimbayo ’06.
Mary Ruiz ’02 writes, “Fellow Chappies … while this is not what you envisioned for your commencement, know that this will make you a stronger and more adaptable member of society! The memories that you have made and the relationships that you have formed will be what you hold dear from your time at Chapman. Good luck & God bless!!”
“Congratulations! You have just graduated from an amazing university that will support you for a long time to come! Go out there and represent Chapman well!” — Marilyn Othon ’94
Others offered consolation for how Commencement plans have been affected, reminding students that life never turns out exactly as expected. “Your graduation is the most unique and the most special graduation of all of us,” writes Jenny Gritton ’19, who remembers how a rainstorm dampened last year’s Commencement ceremonies. “I’m sure you’ll be telling stories of how you graduated college under quarantine for the rest of your life. I hope you take this opportunity to realize that it’s not about today — it’s about the years of work, effort, passion and fun that got you here.”
Inspiring Messages from Across Generations
Along with messages of congratulations, many alumni offered up words of advice for graduates who are about to set off on the next chapter of their lives.
“Use your energy, knowledge, and flexibility to tackle the problems we face as a society head on,” encourages Brett Galland ’16. “Dedicated individuals with the right support can change the world for the better!”
“Post-college life is full of ups and downs,” says Alshey Crosby ’16. “You lose the structure that has given you meaning and purpose and a whole new set of rules will now give you meaning and purpose. Don’t get lost in the change; embrace it, but never, ever, stop learning.”
“Congratulations, class of 2020! May your next adventure be just as bright, successful, and above all – full of joy and learning!” – Rashi Bhatnagar ’19
Moses Yneges ’98 writes, “The best way to learn how to do something is to start doing it. It’s also important to seek out a mentor. Your mentor should be someone with sufficient experience to guide you and to help you avoid wasting time and making mistakes … Try to surround yourself with people who share your enthusiasm for what you want to do.”
“Keep a level head and be forward thinkers!” says Jeremy Preis ’97. “Don’t forget about common sense, it’s difficult to achieve and not everyone will have it! Trust your gut, it will never lie to you. Keep contact with friends because before you know it, 20 years will have gone by. Finally, be strong in whatever faith you believe in and make it come first! Everything else will follow.”
“Believe in yourself. The rest of us already do.” — Nicole Michel ’12
You can read all the messages from the Chapman Family on the Class of 2020 virtual celebration hub. Then leave your own message of encouragement and advice for the new grads. Don’t let them forget: Once a Panther, always a Panther!