It was a spring semester dramatically disrupted, which led to the college's first virtual send-off for graduates. Faculty, family and friends logged on and followed along for Whitman College's 134th Commencement on May 24, 2020.
The virtual ceremony served to highlight the passion and creativity that the Class of 2020 has been known for.
As Provost Alzada Tipton read each student's name and major, ceremony viewers got to see the classes' personality come alive in short video clips. Graduates in caps and gowns pretended to shake hands with invisible administrators, showed off beloved pets and epic dance moves, and gave shoutouts to friends and loved ones.
Laughter, Light and a Better World
Like the graduates, the speakers for this year's ceremony took advantage of the virtual format to offer fresh takes on the traditional speech.
Senior Speaker Maude Lustig '20 used her film and media studies background to create a humorous video speech, shot throughout her parents' home in Seattle, Washington. Lustig acknowledged the difficulties brought to the class by COVID-19, but called on her classmates to remember they already have all the skills they need to succeed.
Commencement Speaker Katie Krummeck '03—an educational designer and consultant—presented an address with whiteboard-style drawings illustrating the speech while she encouraged graduates to use human-centered design principles to guide their path through uncertain and complex times.
Krummeck urged graduates to view their education and the skills they gained at Whitman as a tool to help them—like using a flashlight to navigate a dark forest.
"The flashlight won't illuminate the whole path, but it will help you move forward with confidence just enough," Krummeck said.
"And as we know from our experiences with using flashlights, once you move forward just a bit, you illuminate a little more of the path."
Krummeck also called on her fellow alumni and the graduates themselves to share the ways that they are changing the world. From clean energy to prenatal care to education, the screen filled as dozens of Whitties shared their passions.
"I hope to inspire you to commit to redesigning something that needs fixing, whether big or small, personal or professional, as you start down the path before you," Krummeck said. "Just don't forget your flashlight."