Dean College held its 154th and 155th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at the Dean College campus in Franklin, MA. The celebration included ceremonies for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, as the in-person ceremony to honor the Class of 2020 was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both ceremonies were held outside on the front lawn of Dean Hall. The Class of 2021 Commencement Exercises took place at 10:00 a.m. and honored 268 graduates, including both those in attendance and those unable to be there in person. The Class of 2020 Commencement Exercises took place at 3:00 p.m. and honored 281 graduates with just over 100 graduates returning to participate in the ceremony.
The keynote address for both ceremonies was provided by Dean College President, Dr. Paula M. Rooney, who reflected on the uniqueness of being a 2020 and 2021 graduate.
“For the rest of your lives people will reflect on the years 2020 and 2021 and try to understand the impact,” said Dr. Rooney. “People will ask where you were in 2020 and 2021 – it will become the question of the day. Forevermore you will have the ability to say that you completed your college degree during an extraordinary upheaval. Despite isolation, disruption, economic and political turmoil, and of course, all of the technical challenges, you did it. You. Each and every one of you earned your Dean College degree.”
Dr. Rooney advised students to “Choose your next destination with passion. Choose it because you think it’s the right thing for you, and it’s what YOU want to do with your life. Choose it because you think you will be able to contribute something meaningful to your world.”
Student representatives from each class were selected to speak on behalf of the graduates.
Representing the Class of 2021 was Raen See, an Arts and Entertainment Management major from Piscataway, NJ.
See was an active member of the Dean community and was involved in the Student Government Association, the Student Ambassador Team, International Student Orientation and a number of campus theatre productions. Additionally, she was named to the President’s List for the 2019-2020 academic year.
"Dean has given me countless opportunities to find my passions, come out of my comfort zone and make the transition from a follower to a leader," said See.
See addressed her classmates’ progress despite the pandemic, saying, “We as Bulldogs have shown that we have been able to adapt and adjust to our surroundings time and time again, and for us, the possibilities are endless. This one is for us, and no one can take that away…not even COVID. Everything that we have worked so hard for has laid the foundation and all we need to do is start building."
Representing the Class of 2020 was Glenn Morales, a Communications major from Plymouth, MA.
While at Dean College, Morales was actively involved on campus with the CAL Club, Black Student Union, the Dean News Network, the SpeakEasies improv club, the Raito Fashion show, Open Mic Nights, and was the student presenter at the 2020 Virtual Toast celebrating the Class of 2020. In addition, Morales was the 2020 recipient of the Arthur W. Peirce Prize and received a First Year Scholar award in History.
Morales reminisced about March 2020, when he and his classmates shared a “blissful ignorance” after learning that spring break had been extended. “It will all be over in a week,” said Morales. “If only we had known.”
“My friends and I have reflected over the past year, wondering what would have been...but we never looked back with regret,” said Morales. “No one could have foretold of the challenges we would face when thrust into the world, and yet we persevered. With little promise of careers, a commencement, the well-being of our families, we persevered. I believe that I speak on behalf of all of my fellow graduates when I attribute a great portion of that strength to this community.”
Morales concluded, "My hope is that everyone will take the opportunity of today to remember. Remember not only the challenges, the fear and the seclusion, but remember who pulled us through. Remember that the future we seek is only on the horizon, and our perseverance is further proof that there is no class as ready or eager to conquer the world. Remember that the love we share as a community, though currently socially distanced, will always be with us. Congratulations, Bulldogs."
Both ceremonies were held in accordance with COVID-19 safety policies and procedures set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Town of Franklin and Dean College.