Resilient is the word student speaker Katelyn Kluh of La Plata chose to describe herself and her peers in the College of Southern Maryland’s graduating class of 2020.
“I think that if there is one trait that can best describe our CSM Class of 2020, it is resiliency,” Kluh said during the college’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony Friday morning. “We have had to adjust to the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt the new mindset and practice of social distancing.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of CSM’s campuses in March and the cancellation of its in-person commencement as state officials urged people to stay home and not congregate in groups to slow the spread of the virus.
“Many of us have been forced into a new mode of learning as classes went online for the remainder of the semester,” Kluh continued. “We have been called on to be flexible, to be strong, to be understanding, and it hasn’t been easy. There have been good days and bad days, days of hope and days of darkness, but I think what has truly saved us is our ability to stay connected. We can text, call, Facetime, Zoom — we have all of this technology at our fingertips that allows us to maintain our relationships and keep connections with others strong.”
The use of technology to keep connected was on display Friday morning as CSM held a social media watch party on Facebook to celebrate its 61st Spring Commencement Ceremony, with pre-recorded addresses from President Maureen Murphy, Kluh, Vice President of Academic Affairs Eileen Abel and Faculty Senate President Sarah Merranko were aired, along with a video montage of faculty saluting the Class of 2020 and a photo montage of the graduates were aired.
Murphy thanked everyone for attending the online commencement, “to celebrate the amazing achievements of our candidates for graduation and for the first time in our history doing so in a virtual commencement ceremony.”
According to a news release from the college, the virtual ceremony drew more than 3,000 viewers, more than twice the number of attendees, including students, the college has had for its in-person commencements.
The virtual commencement opened with a performance of the national anthem by Grace Knudson.
During the Facebook watch party, Facebook users left nearly 750 comments and clicked “like,” “love” and “hug” more than 300 times, according to the release.
By noon, more than 30,000 people had interacted with CSM’s 2020 spring commencement webpage, at www.csmd.edu/csmgrad2020, according to the release.
Murphy said there were 470 candidates for degrees and certificates, and 462 associate degrees and 214 certificates were awarded, with many students, such as Kluh, earning multiple degrees.
Murphy said that 62% of the graduating class was female, and the oldest…
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