Hindsight Is 20/20

What does it mean to be a class of 2020 graduate? As SCU plans to celebrate their commencement 16 months later, valedictorian Sabine Pigg ’20 has some ideas.

“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.”

Sabine Pigg ’20 valedictorian
Sabine Pigg ’20 thinks the speech she would have delivered had there been an in-person commencement still holds up. Photo provided by Sabine Pigg.

But that’s not to say that some pills weren’t hard to swallow, some losses not profoundly devastating. “We were told our entire lives our early 20s would be about figuring out what’s important. Well, we certainly have,” she says. “We’ve aged a lot, matured a lot.”

It’s not fair to expect such grit from our young folks. Nevertheless, many like Pigg persisted. “For most of my peers,” she says, “they’ve shown so much innovation and creativity in the way they’ve gone about building their lives amid all of this tragedy and uncertainty.”

Editor’s note: The class of 2020 is now getting the chance to celebrate its achievements, pre- and post-pandemic, properly. Grads are invited to a special commencement celebration during Grand Reunion on Friday, October 8. At 4:30 p.m., graduates in cap and gown and two guests may promenade through campus, have their names read aloud, receive their diploma cover, and have their photo taken by a professional photographer. An evening block party reception will follow. RSVP at scu.edu/commencement/2020.

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