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Marietta College celebrates 2020, 2021 grads with in-person ceremonies

Marietta College celebrated its 2021 and 2020 graduates over the weekend. Following each ceremony, graduates were applauded by staff and faculty as they marched forward toward their new path. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

MARIETTA — With everyone in masks and spaced 6 feet apart, Marietta College celebrated their 2020 and 2021 graduates over the weekend. On Saturday, 2021 students were able to take to the stage and be honored for their academic accomplishments, and on Sunday, the college was able to uphold its promise to 2020 students, giving them an in-person graduation.

“I think it is fantastic that they could give us the chance to walk,” said 2020 graduate Seth Taylor.

For each class, there were some students unable to make it to the ceremony, due to being overseas and unable to return, job conflicts, feeling unwell or other issues.

Some students could be seen Facetiming with family members who were unable to be in attendance due to distance and pandemic concerns. Both events were also live streamed by the college.

While the past few semesters have looked different to students, Marietta College tried to make graduation as normal as possible, making sure to uphold many of the same traditions.

With masks and social distancing at every turn, graduates of 2021 were honored and given a chance to walk across the stage Saturday at Marietta College. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

Each class’s winners of the Jewett Speech Competition were given their chance to read their work at the commencement ceremony. While most speakers were present, many of those who graduated in 2020 have already branched out into the world and begun putting their education to good use. Ashley Olszewski, the 2020 second place winner was among those students, and she read hers remotely from Texas.

This competition is one of the oldest commencement traditions at Marietta College.

“Five years and one pandemic later and here we are,” Ryan Menapace, the first place 2020 winner said as he started his speech. “I would say that we are all on the verge of brand new beginnings, but many of us have already jumped into our futures this past year as frightening as that seems… But here’s the kicker, think about all those times when you were stressed, worried, afraid doing poorly on your assignments and realize all of the knowledge you gained in the skills you developed. Some of us learned how to paint, others learned how to give great presentations, some drew and memorized amino acids and metabolic pathways more times than we care to remember. Think about the uncertainty of the last year and everything we’ve all had to deal with. The fear and worry about not knowing how things will play out or when they will even return to normal. Also think about all of the great experiences you had with your best friends and peers. It’s really astonishing. We’ve embraced our fears and made the most of every opportunity without really thinking about it. We made the most of our academic and social opportunities, in it has let us all here to this very moment.”

Menapace continued his reflection on college, and the impacts on the class of 2020’s journey in his speech, reminding them that the way they embraced their fears was what made them stand out.

“That (embracing fear) is what makes this class special. That is what gives this class ability to leave here today to make the world a better place than it was we found it. That is what will make this class special for the rest of time. We embrace our fears which allows us to gain control of them, to master them and not let them control us. When we do this there is nothing we can’t accomplish there is nothing we can’t overcome,” said Menapace. “As we all go our separate ways today some of us may know what to expect in our lives while some of us might still be trying to find our way in a world that’s been turned on its head for the better part of the past year. But don’t let the fear or apprehension of uncertainty dictate what your life will be going forward…”

Following getting their diplomas and pictures taken, graduates of 2020 and 2021 received a new laptop, courtesy of the 2021 Commencement Speaker Michael J, Salvino, a 1987 graduate of Marietta College and the President and CEO of DXC Technology. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

The 2021 Commencement Speaker was Michael J. Salvino, a 1987 graduate of Marietta College and the President and CEO of DXC Technology. He presented each graduate present for 2020 and 2021 with a new laptop for their success, and to help them continue to reach their goals.

Salvino was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws during Saturday’s ceremony.

While the school tried to uphold as many traditions as possible, they were unable to hold a reception following graduation, and instead handed out goodie bags to those in attendance and students.

“We had a great speaker yesterday and both graduations went smoothly,” said Marietta College President Dr. William Ruud

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com

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