Marking the Moment on Instagram
Community Messages for Class of 2020 graduates
- "Thank you for being so amazing!! Congrats!"
- "CO ’20. The 1st class w/4 years of memories in Roberts Pavilion!!! TY for paving the way!!!"
- "We’re celebrating you from all over the world."
- "We are so proud of you. ♥"
- "You are an amazing group of humans. The world needs your voices and your leadership!"
- "Thank you CMC ’20 for being so amazing and welcoming me with open arms!!"
- "You got this, Class of 2020!! CMC has prepared you to handle everything that awaits!!"
When Bryan Carlen ’20 received his Mark the Moment box in the mail on Wednesday, he put it in a safe place and then returned to finishing one last piece of CMC business.
Until he turned in his final paper for professor Jon Shields’ American Culture Wars class, Carlen wouldn’t allow himself to open the Class of 2020 mystery package. Finally, upon pressing send at 8 p.m., he had permission to celebrate.
“It was kind of like Christmas and your parents telling you, ‘No presents unless you sleep in until 8,’” Carlen said with a laugh. “But honestly, it was so nice to have something to commemorate the moment I actually finished. I’m glad I made that deal with myself. It felt important—‘OK, you’re done. You did this.’”
CMC’s decision to send Mark the Moment celebration boxes to more than 300 graduating seniors was a response to campus disruptions and physical distancing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In late March, the College announced that it would be postponing its May 16 commencement to a future date when students and their families could celebrate together safely on campus. However, CMC leadership still wanted to make today special with a formal acknowledgement of the Class of 2020’s hard work and perseverance during these past four years, said Dorothy Buchanan, CMC’s commencement coordinator.
Several items inside the Mark the Moment box usher in the graduates’ transition to a new CMC chapter: an alumni lapel pin; a copy of the spring CMC alumni magazine, and a welcome message from the CMC Alumni Association. A college-branded champagne flute was added when Class of 2020 leadership organized a virtual gathering and celebration toast for graduates today. An Athenaeum cookbook was also included as a nod to one of CMC’s signature locations and programs—and whose lessons students hopefully continue to be guided by in their post-college life (Carlen said he was particularly excited about using that gift).
The most personal and emotional item, however, is a Class of 2020-branded folder that plays a commemorative video when opened, said Michelle Chamberlain, vice president of advancement and dean of the Robert Day Scholars program. Produced by Osmosis in New York City, and guided to completion by Chamberlain and various departments at CMC (including the President’s Office, Dean of Students, Events, and Public Affairs), seniors were asked to submit self-shot videos while answering a series of reflective prompts.
Students shared memories about everything from the warm chocolate chip cookies in Collins Dining Hall to greasy keyboards during late night lab sessions to moments of bonding and belonging over impromptu dance moves on WOA! trips. In a nod to the current crisis and a sense of community it can still provide, government professor Jack Pitney shared part of a speech from a previous commencement speaker who noted that CMC is not a set of buildings or inanimate spaces. Instead, it is “about ideas, about feelings, about our commitment to one another.”
“A little while ago, I went back to campus, the grounds empty,” Pitney said. “But CMC is still there. It’s in all of us.”
About one-third of the class submitted a video of themselves and close to 290 students are included in some visual form, Chamberlain said. President Hiram E. Chodosh provided both a heartfelt welcome and farewell message for the video, while also sending a personal email to graduates and parents this morning. Faculty members and staff from multiple parts of the College (Dean of Students, Admission, Soll Center for Student Opportunity, CMS Athletics), along with alumni from previous classes who served as RAs and FYGs, all made appearances.
At 20 minutes, the video is hopefully comprehensive enough that everyone in the senior class is able to see a piece of their experience represented, whether they were pictured or not, Chamberlain said. Each member of the class is also included in a full roster of names at the end.
“When you have a job in higher education, you realize quickly that it is so much more than a job. These are students that you work with for four years, that you really get to know and care about deeply. And commencement is the one time when everyone at the College can meet their families, share important sentiments, and really, see a much more holistic picture of these amazing students we’ve come to know,” Chamberlain said.
“We’re all missing out on that, too. And while we know that an in-person celebration will come in the future, with the video, we at least wanted to capture a version of what we love about completing the end of this journey with them. The way we all can let our hair down a bit and see a different side of one another; the opportunity to express some of our hopes and dreams.”
During her video submission, Maya Love ’20 shared her desire for the senior class to pass on its “legacy to the next generation.” The message was inspired by a formative moment at the end of her freshman year after a loss by the CMS women’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament. Teammate Kris Brackmann ’17 handed Love her jersey—and the number she had wanted all along, 10—after the game. Love remembered the gesture as one of kindness. But she also saw it as one of duty and responsibility; a senior leader on campus passing the torch to a younger CMCer with promise.
“It was a challenge. ‘Earn this. And be even better than my class,’” Love said. “In that same spirit, this is a special moment for our graduating class, but it’s also a moment that demands we ask, ‘OK, so where can we take this next? As leaders, how do we extend our passion to others? In our communities, how can we work to make effective change for everyone around us, on whatever scale we can?’
“CMC has provided us with such a strong foundation. Where will we bring that leadership, and what will the next CMC class do that’s even better? I can’t wait to find out.”
Note to readers: The Class of 2020’s Mark the Moment video is not being shared publicly, as it was important to the College that graduates feel they could submit personal memories and photos for a primary audience of one another.