Simmons University today celebrated the many accomplishments of the Class of 2020 during its annual undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies.
Hundreds of students and their families participated in the live streamed undergraduate commencement ceremony – the 115th commencement in Simmons history. Simmons University offers the only undergraduate program for women in Boston and numerous nationally recognized graduate programs open to all. The institution will award nearly 400 baccalaureate degrees this month and more than 2,000 graduate and undergraduate degrees this academic year.
During the commencements, students had the opportunity to wear regalia, turn on their camera feeds and be surrounded by celebrating family and friends as their names were read. Several members of the Simmons community also spoke during the ceremony, including Simmons University Board of Trustees Chair Regina M. Pisa, Simmons University President Helen G. Drinan, and Professor of Practice, Biology and Director of Exercise Science Randi Lite.
The undergraduate ceremony also featured an inspirational message from U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, who congratulated the class of 2020 and expressed her gratitude for its contributions to the community. She also discussed a lesson from her mother who taught her the difference between a job and work – a job pays the bills and work uplifts and betters the community.
"We need you now more than ever engaged in the shared and sacred task of the work of community," Pressley said. "I believe in the power of the future that you will create. You are coming of age and crossing this virtual stage at a time of great consequence. But times like this also yield innovation and brilliance and resilience, and show us the best in people. I hope that you and your family are finding special ways to mark this important milestone in your lives. I’m so proud to be your Congresswoman, to be your partner in doing this work."
Drinan, who ends her term in June after serving as president for the past 12 years, congratulated students on their accomplishments and contributions to the Simmons community and beyond.
"You have made me proud of your scholarship, your service, and your enthusiasm for athletics, music, art and dance," said Drinan. "You are smart, idealistic and successful. Those characteristics, combined with your Simmons degree, will serve you well as you continue your studies or begin your careers."
Pisa recognized those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, along with the many sacrifices by the Simmons community during this pandemic.
"Even in these difficult days, where social distancing means that the handshakes, hugs, and claps on the back are not possible, we know that those are here in spirit," said Pisa. "That spirit of congratulations has carried across 115 years of Simmons graduates. The trustees of Simmons University are proud of your accomplishments. We are confident you will carry the name of Simmons into your professions and communities with distinction, dignity, and pride."
Simmons also presented several awards during commencement. The Joan Melber Warburg, ’45 Leadership Award, which recognizes a member of the senior class who exemplifies the highest ideals of leadership, was awarded to Lex Cruz for their many achievements – including serving as Student Government Association president and as a member of the search committee that chose President-elect Lynn Perry Wooten. Cruz pursued an active chemistry research program while at Simmons, including two highly competitive and prestigious summer National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates.
In addition, the 2020 Alumnae Honor Award was presented to Sunnie Jo Hodge. Sixteen students received 2019-2020 President’s Recognition Awards that included scholarship grants up to $10,000.