After nearly a year and a half of waiting, on Oct. 10, 2021, Binghamton University’s class of 2020 graduates had the opportunity to walk across the stage during their in-person commencement celebration.

After many students’ lives were put on virtual lockdown for the sake of public health, graduation celebrations had to be put on hold, including the commencement for the class of 2020. Instead of the usual in-person ceremony, graduates had their commencement held virtually from Dec. 14 to Dec. 18, 2020.

Meghan Evans, ‘20, who majored in integrative neuroscience and attended the in-person ceremony, expressed how regardless of what has changed in her life and on campus, BU still felt like home.

“It means a great deal to me to actually be able to walk across the stage and not just see my name scroll across the screen,” Evans said. “It feels more personal this way, and more of an accomplishment.”

BU President Harvey Stenger opened the ceremony by saying that although he has “been to more than 100 graduation ceremonies, this is the best one ever … Finally!”

Grace Eiseman, ‘20, who majored in business administration, spoke about the memories she made at BU with friends and how she could finally walk across the stage with them.

“This graduation was a lot longer, but it was nice because I still got to see other friends from the different schools,” Eiseman said.

Guest speaker U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, ‘98, also congratulated the class of 2020 on graduating from an institution he said he finds “amazing.”

Jeffries put his own spin on the words of Winston Churchill, telling students “a knockdown is different than a knockout,” and said students had demonstrated the ability to get back up when being faced with challenges. He emphasized the importance of never giving up, and learning to overcome obstacles to achieve success.

“You look at almost anyone who has achieved any level of success … though you may now see the success, at some point there was failure, there was challenge and there was adversity,” Jeffries said. “But those folks when they were knocked down, they didn’t give up.”