“It still holds up,” Sabine Pigg ’20, valedictorian of SCU’s class of 2020, says of the speech she wrote for the commencement that would never be. Pigg likened the situation of graduating in 2020 to her favorite chemistry concept: entropy, the idea that all things lean towards chaos. “Human existence just continues getting more chaotic—it’s what makes for spontaneous reaction,” she says. And that spontaneity can produce resilience.
Denied the pomp and circumstance of a traditional commencement ceremony, 2020 college graduates across the country shared feelings of sadness and frustration. But more than anything, says Pigg, there was this crushing sense of uprootedness and uncertainty. “We’re all entering the real world for the first time, trying to get jobs, and leaving our home for the last four years, so we’re already unsettled,” she says. “And then with the pandemic, there was nothing else to hold onto.”
Now in her first semester of medical school at Oregon Health & Science University and reflecting on how she and her peers have spent the last year and a half, Pigg says there’s been this big push—from parents, society, the world—to find silver linings. And, sure, “there’s something to be said for the amount of introspection that everyone’s done, and the reevaluation of priorities.”