Gathered around a laptop or a TV from different areas across the country and internationally, graduating seniors, family members and guests and the Gonzaga University community tuned in virtually to celebrate the Class of 2020 Undergraduate Commencement held on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 9 a.m.

The program began with remarks by the Masters of Ceremonies, Deena J. Gonzalez, provost and senior vice president.

Director of Tribal Relations, Wendy Thompson, followed and gave the Land Acknowledgment.

The invocation was given by Fr. Bryan Pham, S.J.

After the Big Bing Theory sang the National Anthem, President Thayne McCulloh gave his congratulatory remarks.

On behalf of all of those at GU, McCulloh thanked graduating members for their willingness and dedication to finishing the year with strength.

“Even though we cannot gather together as we have in the past, I do hope that today’s remote ceremony, still brings you the feelings of nostalgia from your time at Gonzaga, as well as pride for what you and your classmates have achieved as Zags,” McCulloh said.

“Stay connected to us and stay connected to each other,” McCulloh said. “You have many ways of keeping connected with one another and it matters because you never know when along the journey you might need a place to crash for the night, or to borrow some money, or to be one person, singularly essential to help a friend through a dark or difficult time.”  

The honorary degree conferral was awarded to commencement address speaker Fawn Sharp, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from GU and is president of Quinault Indian Nation. 

“We cannot forget the strength, the resilience and the resolve that went through their veins during those times, that strengthened them, that provided that fortitude - it’s the same thing that runs through your veins. You inherited that legacy of strength. You inherited that legacy of resilience,” Sharp said on the graduate’s generations before them facing society’s challenges. 

The student speaker was graduate Arcelia Martin, now pursuing Journalism at Columbia University with a focus on reporting on immigration.

“This job opened my eyes to just a few of the infinite ways in which the human experience varies,” Martin said on working at The Bulletin all four years at GU. “These stories disrupt our predispositions. Stories unlike our own are vital. You don’t have to travel far to find them. If you can, I would, but the diversity of the human experience surrounds us.” 

“Even when everything around us shifts, and is no longer recognizable, we’ll have these stories to hold onto, the ones that make us feel a part of something, that remind us that we have been in it, and are in it together,” Martin said.

Virtual congratulation messages were given by individuals like Maria Cantwell, a U.S. Senator for Washington, GU graduate Mary E. Fairhurst, former chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court and even Jimmy Kimmel.

Graduate Brian Robert Bowers was awarded the Garrigan Award and graduate Megan A. Glenski was awarded the Senior Class Award, for highest academic achievements in their class. 

Commencement concluded with the presentation of over 1,250 graduates from the Class of 2020 in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, School of Education and School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Melina Benjamin is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @melinabenj.

News Editor

Major: International Relations & Journalism I work for the Bulletin to gain professional journalism experience while strengthening my reporting, editing, and design skills. I love the people I work with!

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