After what has been a long wait for the Class of 2020, and a strange senior year for the Class of 2021, Graduation Weekend is finally approaching. Mercyhurst University will celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 in three separate in-person ceremonies on Sunday, May 16, while hosting a long overdue in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 on Saturday, May 15.
Graduation Weekend will start in earnest on Friday, May 14 when families and alumni will descend on Erie to prepare for the Commencement ceremonies.
On May 14 the Class of 2021 Senior Class Gift Committee will also present a check to interim president Joe NeCastro for their senior gift to Mercyhurst. The gift this year is the Kenny Robinson “Beat the Odds” Scholarship, in memory of Laker baseball player Kenny Robinson ‘20, who tragically drowned in May of last year. Although the final amount raised by the class has not be released at the time of writing, the gift will be in excess of $16,200, surpassing the original $15,000 goal set by the class in the fall.
Given that the Class of 2020 were not able to formally present their Senior Class Gift check last year, they will also hand their gift over to NeCastro on May 14 in the Christ the King Chapel. In doing so, they will honor late Mercyhurst Men’s hockey equipment manager, Mike Folga. Led by Mitchell Marsh ‘20, Grace Simson ‘20 and Tricia Shullick ‘20, they will endow Mercyhurst with $16,856 for the Mike Folga Legacy Scholarship.
Also on May 14, winners of graduation awards will be honored in an in-person ceremony in the PAC at 3:30 p.m.
On Saturday May 15, both classes will be honored with an in-person and live-streamed Baccalaureate Mass at 10 a.m. in the Christ the King Chapel. The Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. in the Erie Insurance Arena downtown.
“We realize that many of our 2020 graduates are working or continuing their educations and can’t return,” said director of Alumni Engagement, Lindsay Frank. “But, we wanted to do whatever we could to make an in-person ceremony happen for them.”
Chandler Brandetsas is one Class of 2020 graduate who is looking forward to returning for the big day.
“I am thrilled by the opportunity to have an in-person graduation ceremony. While it will be much different than past ceremonies, I think it is incredibly important that our class gets the recognition that we have rightfully earned over our four years. Overall, I feel like it offers us a sense of closure on this chapter of our lives, and it will offer us just one more experience to add to our fond memories of our time at Mercyhurst.”
Of the 2020 graduating class, 262 are attending in person and 108 will participate virtually in Saturday’s ceremony.
On Sunday May 16, the Class of 2021 will be celebrated in three separate in-person ceremonies.
Commencement will also be in the Erie Insurance Arena, at 9 a.m. for Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts & Social Science students and students in the Walker College of Business; at 1 p. m. for Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences students; and at 5 p.m. for Zurn College of Natural & Health Sciences graduates.
Each graduate may have two guests attend in person. Those who cannot join in person may access the live stream on the day of the ceremony by visiting mercyhurst.edu/graduation. The ceremony will also be recorded.
“I’m happy to have graduation in-person because I believe it allows my peers and I to feel that all the hard work we’ve put into the past four years is being acknowledged and celebrated,” said Class of 2021 senior, Michelle Benedetti.
The Class of 2021 celebrates the accomplishments of 784 students, including master’s, bachelors and associate degree seekers.
Although this has been a different year, graduation will be as close to normal as possible, and for that we are grateful.
Congratulations, seniors, and enjoy your special weekend!