Hundreds of members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 returned to the Yale School of Management for a deferred commencement ceremony on May 14, after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Yale University from holding its traditional Commencement events in 2020 and 2021.
The graduates and more than 1,200 guests attended the ceremony in the Edward P. Evans Hall courtyard after taking part in a university-wide ceremony on Yale’s Old Campus earlier in the day.
Yale SOM Dean Kerwin K. Charles welcomed graduates and their families and friends to Evans Hall. He commended the classes for the grit, resilience, and flexibility they showed in the face of the many disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“You were the first and the worst hit by the changes COVID has caused, and yet, Classes of 2020 and 2021, you persevered,” Charles said. “You thrived in your classes and in your coursework.”
Noting the “frustrations aplenty” that the pandemic introduced, and the need to nimbly shift to new methods of connecting and learning, Charles congratulated the students on the successful completion of their programs.
“You have shown that you embody the best of the values and sense of mission that defines…all of us here at Yale SOM,” he said.
The ceremony’s three student speakers also commended their classmates’ perseverance.
Mingling with classmates this weekend, MBA graduate Sarah Afraz ’20 said she had heard many stories testifying to how her classmates have clung to the values that Yale SOM instills during the “new reality” of the ongoing pandemic.
“I can confirm that our adversity does not define us,” she said. “Our time to rebuild and reimagine is here. Our time has meaning. We are the classes of 2020 and 2021; may we forever expand the pie before splitting it.”
Master of Advanced Management graduate Kwame Amoako ’20 celebrated his classmates’ “shared success” and thanked Yale SOM staff, administrators, and faculty for “the shared commitment of every individual to build leaders for business and society…the unwavering faith that every year this will be achieved and the courage to redefine leadership.”
MBA graduate Aly Gamay ’20 invited a round of applause to thank the Yale SOM community, as well as the students’ parents, friends, and extended families, for their love and support.
Gamay called on his classmates to “give ourselves permission” to find closure in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption of their time at Yale SOM and “to take life by the horns” going forward.
“My hope is that we continue to give ourselves that second chance every morning from now on, to do better, to be better for business and society,” Gamay said.
Yale SOM will host a commencement ceremony for the graduating Class of 2022 on May 23.