WILMINGTON — President Trevor Bates told the Class of 2021 to remember that “all things are possible from this day forward” when Wilmington College held its 145th annual Commencement ceremonies May 8. Yes, that’s ceremonies with an “s” as, for the first time in the institution’s 150-year history, a pandemic forced splitting the year’s culminating event between commencements honoring Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts graduates.
Chief of Staff Erika Goodwin told them they “persevered during one of the hardest times in our history.”
Indeed, the Class of ’21 saw their classes go virtual for the last half of the 2020 spring semester and their senior year, while featuring largely in-person classes, was partially tagged with mask wearing, physical distancing, no sports competitions during the fall, few in-person events and other restrictions found in an atypical campus experience.
The College conferred 279 degrees as sunny blue skies reigned over the proceedings that, in addition to the two ceremonies for the Class of 2021, featured a special evening recognition event for the Class of 2020, which had a virtual Commencement last year.
Bates, who presented the keynote address at each of the three ceremonies, asked the graduates to think about all those who helped them get to this seminal day — parents, families, friends, faculty and staff.
“So, when that time comes and you meet someone who needs you, meet the challenge and smile, and think of this moment,” he said. “Keep going and keep growing.”
Ariana Riccardi, who represented the main campus graduates during the BA ceremony, was an extraordinary campus leader during her time at WC, as evidenced by the bounty of awards she received during the past few weeks. She called upon her fellow members of the Class of 2021 to be leaders of themselves.
“Decisions are made by those who show up,” she said. “So, as you walk out those doors this afternoon, decide to show up for yourself.”
Her Bachelor of Science counterpart, Cody L. Martin, spoke of how welcomed and fully accepted he felt from the moment he became part of the campus community.
“Wilmington College has provided us with endless possibilities — the way this institution invests in its students is what sets it apart,” he added. “Everyone makes an impact, so make sure you leave a good one.”
Angela S. Easton spoke on behalf of the Cincinnati Branch’s graduating class, which is largely comprised of nontraditional students who are required to balance jobs, families and community activities with their desire for education.
“I often wondered if the time I spent on my studies was worth being away from my kids,” she said. “But the times I was working on homework have started some of the most valuable conversations we’ve had with our kids.”