College

Over a year later, Boston University celebrates class of 2020’s graduation

"We are expecting a celebratory event though the speakers will certainly remark upon the challenges this class has gone through."

Boston University graduates at Nickerson Field.

A year and a half after students were forced to leave campus, Boston University celebrated the class of 2020 at their in-person graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

“We are pleased to invite graduates, families and guests back to campus to celebrate their accomplishments on what promises to be a special weekend,” BU wrote in a statement regarding the event.

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The 147th Commencement took place at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

“We are expecting a celebratory event though the speakers will certainly remark upon the challenges this class has gone through and how COVID-19 has impacted the world and the BU community,” BU spokeswoman Rachel Lapal Cavallario said in an email to The Boston Globe.

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Many of these graduates came back to campus for the first time since they left for spring break in March of 2020 and never returned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Globe, roughly 11,000 people were expected to attend the commencement. About 1,800 of these people are class of 2020 graduates.

“For many of you, this will be your first time returning to campus since March 2020,” BU President Robert Brown wrote in a letter announcing the commencement. “I look forward to welcoming you all back as alumni of Boston University and to celebrating your hard work and achievements.”

The commencement student speaker was Macken Murphy, a 2020 graduate of BU’s College of Arts & Sciences. This is the first time a commencement student speaker is an alum, according to the university.

“The faces in front of me will be recognized in their fields for their excellence,” Murphy said to his class. “But they will also be recognized by those around them as kind, generous people, as role models & allies, as mothers and fathers, as personal heroes, and as friends.”

President of the National Academy of Medicine Victor J. Dzau was the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at today’s ceremony.

Other honorary degree recipients included the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health Thomas R. Insel, former director of the World Wildlife Fund International Yolanda Kakabadse, the 16th U.S. Surgeon General and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention David Satcher, and former president and CEO of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Mark Volpe.

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“If we can view adversity in this way — as a chance to learn, to grow, and to emerge stronger and wiser than we ever thought possible — then we can face the future with confidence,” Dzau said to the Class of 2020.

In May of 2021, BU held a commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 — the first in-person graduation ceremony in two years.

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