• Justin McCormack '20
    Carlos Barron

Dear class of 2020,

I count it an incredible honor to represent Phi Beta Kappa and reflect on our academic journey.

To all who made this commencement ceremony possible, on behalf of the class of 2020, thank you!

To my parents in the crowd, my brothers, and all my family, thank you for the unwavering support.

To the faculty, the class of 2020 thanks you for the thousands of papers and impossible exams, countless cups of coffee, and too many late nights in the library. But most importantly, thank you for your guidance, wisdom, and always believing in us.

And to my classmates, be proud of the courage and resilience that brought us to this moment, a culmination of all we have achieved as a class. We accomplished a feat etched into eternity, graduating during a pandemic. 

Our education and this pandemic taught us that life is more than our academic accomplishments. What really matters? Empathy, connection, enduring through adversity, and living a life of service.

The world seems more uncertain than it did in early 2020. We can feel easily discouraged when we see pain, loss, and lack of humanity all around us. But I look at you and see a generation of people inspired and prepared to use the values we cultivated here at Southwestern to change the world. 

But I look at you and see a generation of people inspired and prepared to use the values we cultivated here at Southwestern to change the world. 

In the words of Amanda Gorman, “For there is always light. If only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”

Our Southwestern experience showed us how to connect with others of different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs; to bring together not divide; to inspire not discourage; and to be a guiding light.

That light fosters a more profound human connection. It guides us wherever our futures lead. It brightens with love, compassion, and connection; can conquer hate and isolation; and can bridge all division. That light that has led us to this moment as Southwestern alumni and will carry us forward to make a difference.

Class of 2020, I encourage you to be brave enough to see the light in every moment and challenge and be brave enough to be the light in society! My classmates, we are ready to meet this moment! Let’s go out and make a difference. Now let’s go change the world!