Beloit welcomes class of 2020 back for a special Commencement program
Beloit’s class of 2020 may have missed out on their in-person graduation festivities in May 2020, but they got a chance for a do-over with their family and friends in tow this weekend. Nearly 100 students participated, along with 300 family members and friends.
Events included a graduates-only party on Friday night in the C-Haus campus pub, a Commencement ceremony complete with music and tolling bells on the Middle College lawn at 11 a.m. Saturday, an alumni reception on the patio of Eaton Chapel, and the much-anticipated Senior Gala, a formal dance with faculty and staff in the Powerhouse Stack that evening.
After an extended spring break in 2020, the vast majority of students moved back home to finish their senior year remotely as the pandemic spread across the country and the world. Denied their in-person Commencement ceremony and other celebratory events, the class of 2020 soldiered on. They completed their degrees and created good cheer in a virtual graduation video, which combined short clips of each graduate and a special message from President Scott Bierman. Smiling class photos covered the college website’s homepage.
“We tried to make the virtual ceremony as meaningful as possible, but there’s still something about walking across the stage,” says Chief of Staff and Secretary of the College Erica Daniels, who spearheaded the 2020 Commencement festivities with Director of College Events Elaina Szyjewski. She recruited the senior class officers to ask their classmates what festivities they wanted to see. “The number one thing that came out of that is that the class wanted a party,” Daniels says. “They wanted to be able to be with friends and celebrate. [But] there had to be something of that formal ceremony too.”
She fondly remembers getting a call from Jasa Hinton’20, who was excited about the idea of a modified Commencement ceremony. Hinton said that she owed it to her young daughter to walk across the stage.
Safety was the top priority in planning the festivities, which were a mix of indoor and outdoor events. “In his message, President Bierman said that when the time is right, we’ll do something in person, when we’re able to do so safely,” says Bierman. “The time is right; we’re in a different place than we were two years ago.”