The graduating class of 2020 at the College of the Holy Cross got a surprise message from the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, during their virtual commencement ceremony on Friday.
“We are currently living through an unprecedented global pandemic — truly one for the history books,” he said. “I am profoundly aware that graduating during this time and in this virtual way, unable to celebrate in person this important milestone in your lives with your friends, classmates, and teachers is extremely difficult. I deeply empathize with the situation in which you find yourselves. However, I encourage you to stay strong and unflinching. The country and the world need your talent, your energy, your resolve, and your character.”
The infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health and member of the White House coronavirus task force acknowledged the “staggering number” of lives lost to COVID-19 in recent months.
More than 94,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, with at least 1,608,000 total cases reported since the outbreak began.
“A deeply disturbing number to ponder,” Fauci said. “To be successful in confronting this global challenge and return to some form of normality, we must be united in our efforts to prevail. As you begin the next phase of your lives, some of you will be working directly to contain and overcome this pandemic. Certainly in some manner or form, all of us will be doing our parts as individuals, family members, and members of society.
The infectious disease expert told the graduating students he treasured the lessons he learned as a student at Holy Cross. Fauci graduated from the college in 1962, where he majored in the classics with a pre-med concentration.
In addressing the graduating class, Fauci reflected on how the “Jesuit spirit of intellectual rigor” at Holy Cross has influenced his life and career.
“Precision of thought and economy of expression are tenets that have remained my touchstones to this day, applied to how I think, how I write, and how I communicate with the public,” he said. “Especially during these currently unsettling times. Just as important, however, was the Jesuit emphasis on social justice and service to others. And now if the time, if ever there was one, for us to care selflessly about one another. The education that you and I have received at Holy Cross, steeped in Jesuit traditions, should suit us well to confront and ultimately overcome this historic pandemic.”
Fauci concluded his remarks with congratulations, wishing the graduating class well as they move forward.
“I wish you good health and all the best as you pursue the upcoming adventures in your lives,” he said.