On May 24, the originally scheduled date for Commencement, Centre College held a virtual Senior Celebration to honor the 352 members of the Class of 2020. President John and First Lady Susie Roush recognized the graduating class live on Zoom from the stage of Newlin Hall. Roush will retire at the end of June after 22 years as Centre’s president.
This event was not meant to take the place of an in-person Commencement weekend, which will occur in the future when conditions allow. Instead, this was a special event that celebrated the day when the graduating seniors became alumni, and the day when the Roushes also began their transition as Centre’s “senior” seniors and as proud members of the Class of 2020.
During the live virtual event, President Roush directed the graduates to the Senior Celebration webpage and the heartfelt and creative greetings and congratulations from nearly 40 programs, departments and offices.
As part of this special moment, a senior tribute video produced for the day was shown for the first time for the seniors, which included a montage of photo memories from the year, along with special messages from the Roushes, Dean Ellen Goldey, Student Government Association President Henry Snyder ’20 and Alumni Association President Hank Alford ‘89, ending with a performance by the Centre choir and fireworks.
When President Roush addressed the Class of 2020, he discussed how Centre’s greatest strength is the quality of its people, its trustees, its alumni and friends, its faculty, and staff and its students.
“Even as we work to be smart and to be safe and stay well, I believe we must find ways to live courageous lives,” he said. “Success is not assured and defeat is not fatal. What matters most is one’s ability to summon up the courage to persist, to stay at it, that’s what matters most.”
As President Roush continued to encourage the seniors to live courageously, he mentioned how they have been prepared to do so, even during the final semester of their senior year.
“Now it falls to you to go be people of courage, live safe and smart,” he added. “Live with the courage just as you have these past weeks, as together, you seniors, elected to stare down COVID-19 and finish your work, to point toward a better time when we will be together and speak of these times with some regret, but we will finish each conversation by calling us, how you, the Class of 2020, responded to this challenge with determination, with love and with courage.”
In conclusion, President Roush shared how he and Susie have been witnesses to their choice to be courageous during this time, and how they are certain that there will be more stories from the Class of 2020—stories of accomplishments, stories of kindness, stories of leadership, stories of love and stories of courage.
“For us, Susie and me, there is no greater gift than to hear of such stories—your stories—again and again and again,” he said. “So, celebrate Class of 2020, you have been prepared for a new adventure. Go get ‘em.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
May 27, 2020