A Time to Celebrate: Looking Back on Our December 2020 Graduation 

Graduating student Chandan Tiwana

Commencement is a milestone in every student’s life, but 2020 posed a new challenge for those who graduated amidst a global pandemic.

In addition to navigating remote learning, many of our Trocaire students also worked on the frontlines and supported their families throughout this stressful period. In the words of our distinguished graduation speaker, Dr. Karen Schneider, RSM, MD, “you cannot have all the pomp in these circumstances.” Despite that, our campus family worked to ensure a one-of-a-kind, completely virtual celebration for our 2020 graduates.

Graduation box for the December 2020 virtual celebration

The virtual graduation honored both the 203 December graduates and the 216 May graduates. It premiered live on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Our graduates participated in the celebration as they streamed the video or participated in a live Zoom watch party. More than 1,000 people—graduates, loved ones and Trocaire College faculty, staff and administrators—tuned in to watch and cheered on the graduates. A digital copy of the graduation program was made available to all.

Graduates who participated in the celebration received a graduation box containing the students’ caps and gowns as well as a diploma frame, alumni swag bag and recognition cords if they were part of Phi Theta Kappa or Alum from Day One, or a military veteran. Programs like Nursing and Surgical technology also sent out their pins to students along with other celebratory items.

The Virtual Program

Student speaker Lisa Messina

The virtual celebration mirrored a traditional Trocaire graduation and began with the playing of Pomp & Circumstance and Surgical Technology faculty member Jaclyn Bianci bringing in the mace. Spring graduate and current BSN student Jasmaine West sang the National Anthem, while fall graduate Tiffany Eagle shared the Invocation.

Trocaire President Bassam M. Deeb, Ph.D, presided over the virtual celebration, and Board Chair Thomas Waring shared a greeting on behalf of the Board of Trustees and emphasized the impact our Trocaire graduates have in the community. Sister Marian Mullen, RSM ’67 shared a greeting on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy, noting the importance of a Mercy education and how our students should strive to be good today and better tomorrow.

Spring graduate Lisa Messina was selected as the graduation student speaker based on her compelling journey at Trocaire, where she navigated academic success and worked toward her ultimate goal of becoming a medical surgical nurse. We were joined by Dr. Karen Schneider, RSM, MD, a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a Sister of Mercy, who shared an inspirational message with our students as they closed this chapter and go on to serve a variety of populations.

Dr. Deeb presented our graduates, a portion of the program where students were recognized based on their academic programs, merit achievements and affiliations at Trocaire. Graduates who tuned in were able to move their tassels from the left side of their caps to the right, signifying a close to their time at Trocaire. To conclude the celebration, fall graduate Kathleen Krawczyk led us in prayer with the Benediction.

Madi Dressler’s cap

Other Ways of Celebrating

Our graduates were able to participate in a “How Are You Celebrating” contest, where 43 graduates shared how they plan to celebrate their graduation for a chance to win a meal service for their family or friends. Five students were selected by the graduation committee to win based on their stories. Ashley Ryann Beutel, Destiny Goff, Sandra Andujar, Michael Patterson, and Kristi Swiderski won the contest and each received a $100 GrubHub credit.

In addition, we continued our tradition of the “Bling Your Cap” contest: Staci Hatch, Esteli Araujo and Madison Dressler had the most votes on their caps, based on votes submitted from their peers. We also gathered congratulatory greetings from our campus family and alumni, and our graduate slideshow featured December graduates who shared thank you messages to those who supported them on their Trocaire journey.

We are so proud of our Trocaire College graduates and the journeys they took to earn their degrees. Congratulations again to all of our 2020 graduates. We look forward to celebrating our Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 graduates in May!