Celebration planned for Class of 2020

Alumni invited to return to campus for in-person events they missed out on and two-year Reunion

The much-anticipated culmination of their Wheaton journey ended with an unexpected virtual, rather than in-person, Commencement ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. However, the college has not forgotten the on-campus joy it owes the Class of 2020.

Come June 3, 4 and 5, Wheaton will hold a special Commencement celebration for the young alumni that will include senior week traditions—including the white glove brunch, hoop roll and a formal gala—and the well-deserved moment onstage that they missed out on. The memory of two classmates who have passed, Kelsey Taylor ’20 and Vukosi Nkuna ’20, also will be honored.

The Alumni Relations Office has partnered with the President’s Office and Dean of Students Office to organize the events.

“Not only is this a chance for the Class of 2020 to celebrate a missed in-person graduation but it also is their two-year Reunion,” said Marco Barbone, director of alumni relations. “It is important that alumni know that they are always welcome back to campus.”

Staff members have been collaborating with Steven Flowers ’20, class vice president and secretary, and Maia Hay ’20, class chair, on plans.

“When you look at the 2020 class, you will see a lot of people young in their careers, still in graduate school, taking care of family and pets while navigating the world affected by a pandemic. It is important to honor everyone and the potential they carry to impact the world,” said Flowers.

“You have to love being able to time travel and relish the company of people who were in the same position. There is something magical that happens when my classmates gather, and I’m excited to see what happens again,” he said.

The Posse 17 Scholar who majored in theater is now an associate broker of construction and infrastructure at Aon. Flowers is most excited about seeing President Emeritus Dennis Hanno, who will offer congratulations to Class of 2020 alumni from the stage on Sunday, June 5.

“To see someone who grew alongside this class send us off is important,” Flowers said.

Hay, who double majored in political science and visual art, currently is completing a year of service with City Year Greater Boston as an AmeriCorps member. She received a Watson Fellowship that was supposed to start after graduation but was postponed because of the pandemic. She now is scheduled to leave in August to travel to Canada, South Africa, Vietnam and France.

“One of the things every senior looks forward to are those long-standing traditions that are part of the Wheaton experience, and you put so much off thinking you’ll have more time with each other as the semester opens up to senior week. But everything was out of our control,” said Hay, recalling that students were on spring break when they learned that they would not be able to return to campus.

“There are many classmates, professors and teammates who I never got the chance to say ‘thank you’ to. I think that this celebration will be the chance that people have needed to reconnect with one another and get closure after these past two years,” she said.

Hay said that Class Council of 2020 officers have been working with each other and getting suggestions from class members. “I know the number of attendees keeps on increasing. If anyone has any questions, travel concerns or needs assistance, they should reach out to us.”