Wilkes University Class of 2020 honored with Commencement ceremony one year later

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s the time of year we are celebrating the Class of 2021, but Saturday, a local university acknowledged graduates from 2020 whose traditional commencement exercises were upended by the pandemic.

“It’s just the end of the chapter that we were supposed to close a year ago,” Class of 2020 member Caroline Rickard said.

Members of Wilkes University’s Class of 2020 are finally turning the page on their college education, a year after officially earning their degrees.

“I am so happy. It’s finally closing that chapter off, like physically for me. And I knew I wanted to come back,” Class of 2020 member Susan Cook said.

Wilkes issued more than 700 diplomas last May, but due to the pandemic, Commencement was postponed. 130 of those graduates returned to campus Saturday afternoon to walk across the graduation stage inside the McHale Athletic Center. They were surrounded by friends, family and colleagues.

“I’m definitely excited to actually use like all the knowledge I’ve gained from Wilkes and actually apply it in like real-life situations,” Class of 2020 member Scott Heffelfinger said.

Many of the graduates have since entered the workforce and say being a student during the height of the pandemic better prepared them for their jobs.

“Being the last two months virtual, you know we understood what it was like to do class and Zoom,” Rickard said.

Perhaps a silver lining for these Wilkes University Colonels, overcoming obstacles as they forge their path.

“We’re weathering the same storm, but in different boats. And that’s really true,” Cook said.

One stark reminder of what’s been happening this past year, the Wilkes 2020 grads and everyone in attendance were required to wear masks while inside the McHale Athletic Center.

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