On May 8, 2020, the VCU Honors College welcomed 128 graduates into its cherished body of Honors alumni. In graduating from the VCU Honors College, the Class of 2020 has received the highest accolade offered by Virginia Commonwealth University: University Honors. Although the year may not have ended as planned, with the novel COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world this spring and forcing universities to move all graduation festivities online, there remain many reasons for joyful celebration and blissful nostalgia.
In recognizing the Class of 2020, we simultaneously celebrate many firsts with them. Within this group, we have the first students to have taken our HONR 150: Flourishing course, those who piloted our HONR 170: Humans of RVA & VCU course—then subsequently went on to intern for it—and others who completed our new curriculum that rolled out in the Fall of 2018, including taking HONR 170: Humans of RVA & VCU, HONR 171: Investigative Inquiry, and the HONR 494: Senior Capstone course. As our graduates look toward the future, they boast a wealth of fond memories, unique experiences, and immeasurable potential. This Class of graduates truly is unlike any other.
A total of 44 students have declared plans to complete a graduate degree, including 31 going on to programs within the Health Sciences, 10 of whom are moving on to the VCU School of Medicine and another 18 of whom are spreading out to medical schools across the United States. Other students will be matriculating into an array of graduate programs, such as law, clinical psychology, social work, and international affairs.
A number of our graduates are venturing into their new careers as well. From graphic design to software development, interior design, government consulting, and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, to name a few, the Class of 2020 has wasted no time in finding incredible career opportunities. Moreover, they have found other creative and personal ventures to pursue, such as illustrating or writing books and poetry compilations, becoming an Army Medical Officer, growing the esports community, modeling, directing movies, curating museum exhibits, traveling or going abroad on a Fulbright scholarship, and so much more.
In a sense, graduating is very much about the future and opening a new chapter in one’s life. However, it’s also about remembering the past and the way it has shaped, grown, and emboldened each graduate. Looking back, our students give thanks for the special memories and opportunities that they would have never had were it not for the VCU Honors College.
The Honors courses and sections that pushed them and opened their eyes to new subjects, world issues, and passions: Rhetoric, Flourishing, Community Engagement, Psychology, POLI 365, Genetics, Calculus...
The study abroad opportunities that helped them to spread their wings, such as Discover Medicine in Italy...
The research opportunities that gave them hands-on experience, including the Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program, the Freshman Research Institute, and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program...
All of these things have made our students’ college experience what it was, and have enabled them to go forth with confidence, determination, and promise. Yet, there is one thing, above all, that many of our students have cited as the most important Honors experience they had: the tight-knit, supportive community they formed. Through the late nights laughing, studying, and connecting with friends in the Honors residence hall, and the encouragement and care they received from their Honors instructors and advisors, they forged an unforgettable community within Honors.
Perhaps Joy Ma sums up best what Honors community means through her experience as a student in the Humans of RVA & VCU pilot course.
“My favorite memory of my time with the Honors College was the time my Humans of RVA and VCU pilot course went to the Valentine museum and had lunch in the garden there. It was one of the last days of class for us and I remember sitting there, laughing with everyone and thinking how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to meet and work with every single one of them. All of us came from different backgrounds and a lot of us are studying different things so I don't think I would have ever met some of them if it wasn't for Humans of RVA and VCU, but I'm so grateful that I did. They are some of the most passionate and hard-working people that I know and I know they're going to make a difference in the world; I'm lucky to be able to call them my friends because of the Honors College.”
To all of our graduates, we congratulate you on your unwavering perseverance and numerous accomplishments. On behalf of the entire Honors community, the faculty and staff of the Honors College wish you the best of luck and know you will go far in life. Welcome to the Honors alumni RAMily!
Wish to stay connected with the Honors College and VCU as alumni? Don’t forget to update your information on the VCU Alumni website!