Quote Unquote: Class of 2020
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hope wasn’t able to hold a traditional Commencement for the Class of ’20. With a year having passed by the time a large gathering could take place, the college instead held a celebration for the class in the Pine Grove on Saturday, May 22, that blended elements of the ceremony and a reunion. The speakers included class representative and 2019-20 Student Congress president Chandler Alberda ’20, who reflected on how the class’ senior year was affected and the perspective provided across the year that followed.
“Our reality was turned upside down. Those last six weeks of school were supposed to be filled with memories that we will never get back, lost time with our people in our place. And it hurt and it felt unfair. And frankly, it just kind of sucked. And as a class, we grieve the loss. And we walked around as students for the last time and we did not even know it. Final performances, athletic games, showcases, presentations, pinnings and social events — rites of passage that were anticipated for years — we didn’t get, even a simple graduation.
“That kind of loss and that kind of hurt just makes you think, ‘We deserve better. This is not what I expected.’ But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the bumpy road of post-grad life, it’s that all the things we think we deserve or how we think things are supposed to go or the expectations that we have are just empty promises to ourselves. Our expectations so easily get the better of us. And they make it difficult to recognize the simple power of each moment, especially the ones you never would have planned.
There’s a simplicity in clarifying your true desires, the desires to love and be loved well and to build a community and be an active member of society, all of which we’ve learned to do in any circumstance.
“The way we left Hope and the year to follow did not meet any of my expectations. In the funny nuances of Zoom classes. In finishing undergraduate just at the click of a button. There was less cold calling in class and more ‘You’re on mute!’ The extra quality time with your family and rediscovering your own hometown. All these little things, like quarantining with your college off-campus house — you didn’t know that you would find joy in those little unexpected pleasures. One of those is having the joy of being here right now on campus with all of you a year later, enjoying a meal in the Pine Grove while the sun sets and reuniting with people that I would not have seen again if it weren’t for this.
“We graduated, we searched for jobs. We found jobs. We started grad school remotely. We’re working full time in our childhood bedrooms. We got through a whole year of adulting in a global pandemic!
“Sure, I still have a lot of plans for myself. I have dreams for myself, and I have places that I know I’m going to go — just as every Hope College grad should. And they might not meet my expectations, but to have hope and wants and plans is what makes you a vibrant person and gives you that vibrant hope that we learn so much about at this school. So don’t get caught up in how things should be. There’s a simplicity in clarifying your true desires, the desires to love and be loved well and to build a community and be an active member of society, all of which we’ve learned to do in any circumstance. So if you want something, go get it — it’s just a Zoom call away.
“So with that, I’m so joyful to be with you here right now and not to take for granted the pleasure of seeing your whole faces and to share a once-in-a-lifetime Hope College experience and recognize the truly unique honor it is to be the Class of 2020.”