Class of 2020 celebrates Commencement on campus

hat toss

More than 700 graduates from the Class of 2020 returned to Wake Forest University today to walk across the stage in front of Wait Chapel for a long-awaited in-person commencement ceremony honoring them.

The outdoor ceremony began at 9 a.m. on Hearn Plaza under blue skies. A virtual celebration was held in May 2020, but members of the class were invited to campus this weekend to celebrate together with their families, friends and professors on campus. 

Mellie Mesfin, who served as Wake Forest student government president when the pandemic began, was among the speakers at today’s celebration of the Class of 2020.

“We now get to join the ranks of thousands of Demon Deacons who’ve celebrated their graduations donned in regalia, amongst friends and family on Hearn Plaza,”  Mesfin said.“We’ve had the time and space to process the ways in which our experiences on this campus have irrevocably shaped who we are as people. We’ve begun to see the fruits of our academic labor pay off in our personal and professional lives.”

President Emeritus Nathan O. Hatch, who retired in June, was invited back to give the commencement address. 

Hatch acknowledged the difficult path the graduates had navigated and praised their resilience and accomplishments.

“As you begin your second year as Wake Forest graduates, I encourage you to live in hope,” he said. “We should have hope because each one of us, every member of the class of 2020, has enormous power and creativity to do good. Take joy in doing the right thing even when the future is unknown.”

The graduates tossed their caps in the air at the conclusion of the program, while guests cheered. Dozens of faculty lined up to talk with the graduates and congratulate them with handshakes and hugs. 

A livestream webcast of the ceremony is available here.

Wake Forest President Susan R. Wente, who joined Wake Forest July 1, welcomed the 2020 graduates to campus at a Friday evening gathering on Manchester Plaza. The Class of 2020 graduates were also acknowledged at the Wake Forest football game.

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