Samantha Brandt was disappointed by the unexpected way the last two months of senior year at Hood College went due to the coronavirus pandemic. But she was delighted by the virtual commencement ceremony that Hood put together on the morning of Saturday, May 16.
“I loved it. I’m very grateful that we were able to have something to celebrate Hood 2020 seniors, even though it’s not in person,” Brandt said. “... And there’s just so much love at Hood.”
Hood is planning an in-person ceremony for October, which Brandt said the students are all excited about. Since she lives in the Frederick area and is continuing her education with Hood to work toward her MBA, she will definitely be able to attend.
Alvin Lewis, another Hood senior, is also looking forward to the in-person ceremony.
“My mom’s probably going to cry seeing me walk across the stage,” he said.
But the ceremony, which was a video including clips from several different senior staff members, faculty members and students, was nice to see, too, he said. The video ended with photos of each member of the Class of 2020, which the media department had requested from each student ahead of time.
“I can see they put a lot of thought into it, and I thought it was good,” Lewis said.
During the virtual ceremony, Hood College president Andrea Chapdelaine awarded the entire Class of 2020 with the Presidential Medal of Hope, which is usually reserved for one individual who exemplifies the college’s values.
But the entire class was worthy, she said, for overcoming the adversity they had been shown by the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have instilled hope in me,” she said. “... Our hope lies in each of you.”
Olivia White, dean of students, drew upon her love of elephants in her segment of the video. They represent strength and perseverance to her. instead of using the phrase “the elephant in the room” to describe something bad or uncomfortable that goes ignored, she turned the phrase on its head to describe the strength of the Class of 2020.
“You are truly the epitome of Hood’s values,” she said. “... Never be afraid to be the elephant in the room.”
Brandt said the pandemic has greatly impacted her post-grad plans, since most companies have instituted hiring freezes. While she’s been applying for jobs, she hasn’t heard back from anyone. She’s currently interning at a local company, and while she hoped to stay on as a full-time employee, she’s not sure how soon that could happen.
“So it’s kind of just a waiting game, because there’s a couple things in the works to try to get me full time but right now I’m just at my intern level,” Brandt said.
After the virtual ceremony, different academic departments held individual Zoom meetings where the professors and students could catch up together, a Hood tradition that has been occurring long before the pandemic began. Lewis, a business major, said he was able to see all the professors he had missed.
“When I was in the group chat, all the professors and everyone knew me by my first name and they know all their students by their first names,” Lewis said .”The relationship that we have with our professors is a strong relationship, and that’s one thing I really like about Hood.”