01 Sep Class of 2020 Celebrates Graduation after Postponement Due to COVID-19
After months of online learning, isolation, quarantine, and the postponement of graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students from the class of 2020 were finally able to celebrate the accomplishment of completing their degrees at UVF on August 29th, 2020. The day of Commencement was characterized by a desire to honor God for His faithfulness and worship Him for all He has done and all He has yet to do.
Because of forecasted inclement weather and social distancing considerations, two Commencement ceremonies were held in the Flower Chapel. The ceremonies were streamed live so that friends and family could tune in from all over the world to celebrate their graduates. Aside from the required masks, fewer than normal attendees, and significant spaces between seats, Commencement also incorporated elements from the traditional Baccalaureate service, which was not held this year. Three speakers, a professor and two graduating seniors, were able to share their messages during both Commencement ceremonies. UVF alumna and Behavioral Sciences Department Chair Rev. Melissa Falk ’96, and graduates Jenette Ellis ’20 and Landon Ritchey ’20 all shared predominantly from Psalm 103, along with other supporting Scriptures.
Using the traditional themes of past, present, and future, Ellis encouraged the class of 2020 and all those listening in person and online to “[not] dwell on the negative circumstances of our past, [but] consciously choose to make a list of our incredible blessings.” “In this moment, we have an incredible opportunity: we can alter our destiny and create a brighter future. By making a commitment to follow God’s word, we will experience His blessing, and [our lives] will never be the same,” Ritchey proclaimed. Reverend Falk closed with the statement that, “the world has always been ill-equipped to provide the assurances that we can only find in Jesus. But it’s often through the unexpected and painful experiences of life that the assurances of Jesus and His promise to be with us shine the brightest… ‘Blessed Assurance’ is a challenge and a mandate for how we will live every day of our lives… Your story is that, while the world has never been able to hold any lasting promise of assurance, for your future, you have a blessed assurance that your story is firmly in His hands. You are firmly in His hands.”
Commencement speaker and UVF Board of Trustees member John Paproski addressed the 2020 graduates and applauded them for a job well done and urged them to do their best in their respective fields.
“Regardless of our talent and vocation, we can make our largest impact on this world and the people in it by multiplying our talents and blessings. That’s why this university is so important, and that is why you, the 2020 graduates, are so important. You are the fruit that UVF bears. Not just 119 lives, a little smarter and ready to take on the world, but disciples equipped with vocational skills and talents and ready to take your ministries to the corners of the earth. You may reach people through products that you make or hugs that you give: maybe in the mission field, maybe in the boardroom [or] corner store. But you are leaving here with dreams, talents, and blessings that will blossom into expanded dreams, talents, and blessings.”
Finally, graduates were welcomed into the Alumni Association by Rev. Gavin Brown ’04, Board of Trustees member and Lead Pastor of Lifehouse Church in Beltsville, MD before receiving their respective degrees from UVF President David J. Kim.
To watch the first Commencement ceremony during which the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Social Work graduates were recognized, click here.
To watch the second Commencement ceremony during which the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts, Master of Music, Certificate, and Associate of Arts graduates were recognized, click here.