Dear Class of 2020,
I wish we could have known. When I stood before many of you at your freshman convocation in 2016, we made a pact to return to Tucker Coliseum in spring 2020 for your commencement ceremony.
We worked together to achieve that goal. Our faculty and staff listened to, supported and nurtured your goals. We laughed when times were good. We occasionally cried when times were tough. We persisted.
I wish we could have known that when your final semester began, it would end under the most unusual of circumstances. Mid-March arrived, and in a matter of days, our world changed. Classes went online. Students were separated from mentors. Friends were separated from friends. Fear rivaled hope. And yet, we persisted.
Our professors immersed themselves in shifting their curriculum to a virtual environment. Our staff developed innovative ways to keep you connected with each other and to the university. You and your fellow ATU students did more than persist. You excelled.
I wish we could have known. I wish you could have taken that graduation day group photo with the lifelong friends you made along the way. I wish I could have shaken your hand or offered you a congratulatory hug. I wish you could have caught a glimpse of your family proudly cheering and locked that moment in your memory bank forever.
Now we know. Our fate was not to return to Tucker Coliseum for commencement ceremonies in May 2020. Our fate was to learn difficult and valuable lessons in the power of grit, determination and perseverance.
As you go forward to pursue your next set of dreams in an uncertain world, I encourage you to continue applying these valuable lessons. We need your toughness. We need your compassion. We need your will to overcome unforeseen challenges.
I wish we could have known. I would have told you that I love you, and I’m proud of you. That much I know for sure.
-Dr. Robin E. Bowen, President
for the Tech Action, Fall 2020