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University of Maryland Celebrates Virtual Commencement

Virtual ceremony marks first of a series of events to recognize Spring 2020 graduates

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Following an uncommon end to the spring semester, the University of Maryland honored graduates in a virtual commencement ceremony on May 22, 2020. Thousands of viewers tuned into the main ceremony, which streamed on multiple platforms.

University President Wallace D. Loh presided, offering words of pride and encouragement to the graduates who earned more than 8,500 bachelor's, master’s and doctoral degrees from various programs.

“I regret that the end of the semester was disrupted, and students had to be separated from friends and campus activities,” said Loh. “But I’m heartened and proud by how Terps responded, with grit and determination, and with concern for others, finding ways to stay connected and help each other.”

In his last commencement before retirement in June, President Loh also conferred honorary doctorates to Hiram Whittle, the first African-American male undergraduate student admitted to UMD in 1951 and to Elaine Johnson Coates, the first African-American female student to earn a bachelor’s degree from UMD.

The commencement address was delivered by U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer ’63, majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and congressman for Maryland’s 5th District. He urged students to take the fearlessness they learned at Maryland and apply it to their futures.

“Challenge and uncertainty present us with an opportunity to prove that the light of our vision and hope reaches farther than the shadow of our challenges,” said Hoyer. “Class of 2020, I know that you will meet today’s challenge and those you face in the years ahead with resilience and resolve. More than most graduating classes, the class of 2020 has had to be fearless.”

Student speaker Citrupa (Kat) Gopal '20, a biological sciences major, addressed her fellow graduates and also encouraged them to confidently accept the challenges ahead. Additional remarks were made by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and University System of Maryland Regent Gary Attman. Graduates and families were also treated to surprise appearances by special guests and notable UMD alumni Kevin Plank ‘96, Scott Van Pelt ‘88, Maury Povich, Connie Chung ‘69 and WWE’s Mojo Rawley ‘08 throughout the program.

“It is my sincere hope during your time in College Park that you come to understand that Maryland pride is a very real thing,” Van Pelt shared. “I hope you leave school with it, and I hope you know that all of us that have preceded you across this stage, we have it in you.”

Ahead of the ceremony, graduates received a care package, which included a turtle pin, posters, a commencement program and, for undergraduates, a cap and tassel. All graduates were encouraged to use these items and more to share their UMD memories on social media. More than 1,500 Terps shared more than 3,500 posts on social media using the hashtag #UMDgrad, including photos, videos and their favorite Maryland memories. Many of these memories were shared during the ceremony.

Individual colleges and schools also hosted their own virtual commencement ceremonies on May 22, featuring remarks from deans, displaying the names of every graduate. In addition to the virtual ceremonies, spring 2020 graduates are invited to attend and be recognized at the Maryland Football game on September 12, 2020, and participate in the December 2020 in-person commencement ceremony. The university continues to closely monitor guidance from state and local leaders, the USM chancellor, and public health officials and will announce additional details when they are available, keeping the health and safety of the university community as the top priority.

To rewatch the full ceremony, visit commencement.umd.edu.

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