Dear students of Villanova University’s Class of 2020,
Our University community often talks about the idea of “the Villanova Experience.” And as I reflect on your time at Villanova over the past four years, I am awed by the threads that have become the fabric of your class’s shared memories.
When the men’s basketball team won the national title in 2016, you were still in high school and likely watched it from afar. Maybe you even texted your friends and told them, “Did you see that shot? That’s where I’m going to school! Villanova!!”
2018, though? That was your team. You had been on campus for two years, mastered both college classes and college adulting, and when the team won the championship, it felt like you did, too. Everyone rushed outside to celebrate, and you were right there. Together as a community. It was an unforgettable night that lasted until early in the morning. You shouted until your voice was hoarse and hugged your friends and classmates until you literally began hugging everyone you could find, even people you only remember from orientation. Thank god, Father Peter didn’t make you go to class that day or the day of the parade.
This spring was supposed to be your time. A celebration of all the late nights and tough finals you bested on your way to earning a bachelor’s degree. At commencement, all your friends, family, and classmates would be together to cheer your accomplishments as a Villanova student.
You know, the typical graduation—”Pomp and circumstance” and shifting your tassel. A sip of champagne and more than a few tears. And you’d be doing that hugging everybody thing again. It would mark the end of one adventure and the start of your next one. First, you’d say goodbye to your favorite study spot in Falvey. You’d promise to stay in touch with the many close friends you met in the clubs, sports, and residence halls. Then you’d be on your way.
Instead, your time turned out quite differently than you expected.
It was spent mostly away from your familiar Villanova home, learning how to Zoom, catching up with friends on Instagram, and hanging out for an unprecedented amount of time with your family. You found the best Zoom background ever. You picked up that one hobby you’d always meant to try. (And probably gave it up just as fast.) You also learned that your one professor has a super affectionate cat and terrible taste in wall art.
Since we never had the farewell any of us imagined, I truly hope that as new alumnae/i you’ll return to Villanova often. Drop in on your favorite professors. Have a coffee in Holy Grounds. Say that belated goodbye to your favorite study spot in Falvey.
But no matter where your next adventure takes you—whether you end up working in an ICU in California, an engineering firm in London, or starting your own business in New York City—know you’ll always be a Villanovan. Because, even when our community cannot be together, we’re never truly apart.
Cheers to you, Class of 2020. You. Are. Unforgettable.
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.