Tassels must turn: Local colleges recognize graduates’ fortitude, resilience, and academics

Written by on May 25, 2021

Tassels must turn:  Local colleges recognize graduates’ fortitude, resilience, and academics

By Hayden Mitman

May 25, 2021

Screenshot of Lehigh University’s livestream of the 2021 graduation. Photo provided by Hayden Mitman | WLVR

Colleges throughout the region have been holding graduation ceremonies this month after a year unlike any other. 

Listen to the story.

Students overcame online learning, social distancing and a pandemic to earn their diplomas. On May 24, students at Lehigh University and Muhlenberg College turned their tassels at in-person ceremonies, albeit outdoors. 

After a year of near isolation, college students throughout the region have a reason to celebrate. 

Lehigh President John Simon lauded the class for more than just earning diplomas.

“Graduates, you have not only mastered the rigors of academia, you’ve done so successfully during a global pandemic. One day, when you’re my age, and that’s a long time from now, it will be a story to tell younger generations,” Simon says.  

Screenshot of Lehigh University’s livestream of the 2021 graduation. Photo provided by Hayden Mitman | WLVR

Jessica Scuderi, Lehigh University student speaker for the class of 2021, said these events are long overdue. 

“I’m grateful that this ceremony is in person. That we are together and, despite spending the majority of the last two years behind a camera, everyone remembered to wear pants,” Scuderi says.  

The pandemic loomed large at Muhlenberg too, even though senior speaker, Michelle Rajan, tried to avoid it. 

“After all the ways the virus impacted every single moment of our senior year, I wasn’t going to let it affect our commencement speech, too,” Rajan says.

Screenshot of Lehigh University’s livestream of the 2021 graduation. Photo provided by Hayden Mitman | WLVR

But in the end, she came clean.

“However, if I’m being honest. I feel like I limped to the finish line here today. After a year of so much loss, distance and Zoom, your strength to make it here today deserves recognition,” Rajan says. 

Over the weekend, Lehigh held a commencement for the class of 2020, as well. 

Moravian University held its commencement earlier in May. Lafayette College will host its graduation ceremonies on May 30.

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