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20 Thoughts from the Drexel University Class of 2020

Drexel's Class of 2020 is an historic one. Here are their thoughts during graduation week.

June 08, 2020

The Drexel University Class of 2020 is an historic one, which means they’re bound to have some meaningful thoughts, perspectives and advice this week as we send them off in style (virtually) on June 11.

DrexelNow asked 20 members of the Class of 2020 about how they’re feeling about graduating in this historic moment, how they’ll be celebrating and what their advice is for their fellow Dragons. Here are their thoughts:

Q: How do you think graduating amidst a pandemic has made you stronger or has changed you?

Apoorva Selvaraj - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“It has made me more aware of the inequities in our society and just how damaging it is. It makes me want to truly contribute to vital change in my career and community.”

Apoorva Selvaraj
BS/MS Biomedical Engineering
Student Body President, Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA)

Marissa Olsen - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I think that finishing my last term amidst a pandemic has been hard, but it has allowed me to appreciate the little things. It has allowed me to be grateful for things like technology, my access to education even if it is not in person, the ability to talk to my loved ones while social distancing, the chance to enjoy walks in Philadelphia, and it has given me time to reflect.”

Marissa Olson
BA Global Studies
Drexel Communications Study Abroad Ambassador
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain

Ebed Jarrell - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“This pandemic has made me more grateful. I enjoyed the freedoms I had before the pandemic. I also realized the lack of control I have. I trained for years to win a national championship. To have that dream ripped away was difficult. ‘Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1: 2–4).’ The trials I have faced have prepared me for future trials.”

Ebed Jarrell
BS Mechanical Engineering
Drexel Wrestling

Q: How do you think you’ll remember and talk about this experience years from now?


Kennedy Jackmon - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“This is such a historic moment that we are all living through and I cannot wait to tell my children about this time. I cannot wait to tell them about how their mother survived and how she stood tall in the middle of civil unrest. I cannot wait to tell them that through it all, she got her degree. College is definitely not for everyone and the fact that we are all graduating during these circumstances is something to celebrate.”

Kennedy Jackmon
BS Criminology and Justice Studies
Former President, Drexel Black Action Committee

William Stabbert - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I will look back on my time at Drexel both fondly, and with a sense of pride. I have enjoyed my time at Drexel for many reasons. My experience as a student-athlete at Drexel has been challenging, but rewarding. My teammates have been awesome, and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. My classmates and professors have challenged me to become a better student than I ever thought possible.”

William Stabbert
BS Biological Sciences
Drexel Lacrosse

Suravi Ray - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I don’t think I will ever forget 2020. While I will definitely remember the hardship it imposed on us, I will also remember the beauty of small moments in it. This has been a learning experience for everybody and hopefully, in the years to come, we can focus on what we have learned from it instead of living in fear of another pandemic. 2020 was the start of an uprising against corruption, injustice and racism. This year truly shined a light on the worst parts of humanity and is on its way to showing us how to make it better. I hope we, the Class of 2020, come out stronger and ready to lead the world into a new tomorrow.”

Suravi Ray
BS Biology
College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate student commencement speaker

Antigone Bellanich - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I think I’ll remember this experience with heartache and hope. Heartache because thousands of people have lost their lives to the pandemic. All of us have been impacted in one form or another. I will also remember this experience with hope, not only in hope that we don’t experience another global pandemic for generations to come but the hope that comes when people show kindness in times of difficulty and heartache. Kindness has been shown immensely in communities and people coming together to help each other overcome the pandemic.”

Antigone Bellanich
BS Information Systems
College of Computing & Informatics peer mentor and diversity and inclusion coordinator

Q: How are you staying resilient during this pandemic?

Kristine Loh - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I’m trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve always struggled with impostor syndrome, and it magnified upon the start of the pandemic. The pressure I put on myself to maintain my high standards and maintain the levels of dedication I had when there wasn’t a global crisis was taxing. I’m grateful for my support network that I’ve leaned on throughout the pandemic — from the friends I met freshman year to my senior design group to my thesis advisor. They’ve helped me learn to appreciate my daily accomplishments, regardless of the size. Focusing on the little successes every day has helped me stay resilient and keep moving forward.”

Kristine Loh
BS in Chemical Engineering, MS in Materials Science and Engineering
College of Engineering undergraduate student commencement speaker

Michael McCarney - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I’ve kept sane by picking up some new hobbies and rediscovering old ones. Namely, I’ve picked up a running habit and have been perfecting my route through my neighborhood. I’ve also rediscovered my love for reading. It’s been a while since I’ve read something other than a textbook or journal article and it’s been nice to rediscover the way a good book can transport you away. Other than that, I’ve been having a lot more phone calls and Facetime chats than usual to keep connected with everyone I haven’t been able to see.”

Michael McCarney
Biomedical BS/MS student

Roxzine Scott - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I am staying resilient by taking care of my physical and mental health while I isolate. In addition, discovering fun activities to do around the house has been uplifting. One of my favorite activities has been going through old family photo albums and reflecting on cherished memories with my fiancé.”

Roxzine Scott
BS General Studies
Goodwin College of Professional Studies student commencement speaker

Q: How do you plan on celebrating your graduation off campus?

Alyssa Bennett - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“Graduation day may look entirely different this year for Drexel graduates. We won’t have the gathering of thousands of students and families or fireworks at Citizens Bank Park or our Champagne Toast with Drexel University President John Fry. What we do have is a degree that will take us far in life. So, for me graduation day will be about connecting with my family and friends, raising a glass to the Class of 2020, and celebrating our accomplishments.”

Alyssa Bennett
BSBA in Marketing and Organization Management
President, The Good Idea Fund

Yissel Samaniego - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I am someone that even with this happening, nothing is going to stop me celebrating this moment that is ours. Be happy with what I can do, not with what I can't do — which is pretty much everything. Going back to my country, going out to a restaurant and celebrating outside is out of the conversation. The few friends that stayed in Philadelphia and I are planning to celebrate in our apartments, decorating everything and keeping up the mood.”

Yissel Samaniego
BS International Business, Operations and Supply Chain Management & Business Analytics
Senior Class President, Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA)
President, Drexel University Supply Chain Management Association

Nicole Warder - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“Through the Campus Activities Board (CAB), we were able to celebrate our seniors and send them off. We still ordered cords and our secretary put a lot of work into senior gifts that we will be mailing out to all of our graduates no matter where they’re at right now. Our board put a lot of thought into surprising our seniors (me too!) with virtual letters including pictures and messages from several members of the board. I plan on attending our virtual graduations and hopefully coming back next year to truly celebrate. I don’t think the fact that I am graduating will hit me for a long time.”

Nicole Warder
BS Economics and Legal Studies
President, CAB
Senior Class Representative, USGA

Q: What do you think your classmates should take away from this experience?

Alexa Kutch - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I think that in times of turmoil, we as human beings are designed and programmed to be resilient. Our classmates will not take things for granted. We will live every day to the fullest and one day tell our kids and grandkids how we beat a global pandemic.”

Alexa Kutch
BS/MS Secondary English Education
Drexel Swimming

 Adrian Mendosa - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“2020 is honestly not the year many anticipated it to be. However, I hope my peers come to realize that 2020 is a year that we needed, not wanted. Despite all the chaos, it allowed us to slow down for once, it forced us to change and take a hard look at ourselves and our lifestyles. It is an opportunity to reset and change things for the better.”

Adrian Mendosa
BS Chemical Engineering
Dragons’ 24

Jacobie Smith - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“I have mentioned to the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design Class of 2020 that now is not the time to be complacent. It is crucial for us to be uncomfortable in order to solve difficult situations that have been evaded for too long. We have achieved so much and there is plenty to be grateful for, but we cannot ignore those who are struggling to experience joy themselves. We have the knowledge, resources and networks to really make long-lasting changes that can benefit everyone in our communities.”

Jacobie J. Smith
Bachelor of Architecture
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design undergraduate student commencement speaker
Black Architecture Students Society

Q: What is your key advice for the rest of the Class of 2020 in this unprecedented time?

Dahrah Muhammad - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“This pandemic showcased the cracks in our society and now we know what we can work on fixing. It won’t be easy, but this graduating class is composed of some of the most resilient and strong-minded people. We can make a difference instead of just starting our lives like normal. We have a different way of starting off and though it is terrifying, I feel that our journey can be new and exciting. We can push our world forward for the better and I am hopeful for what lies ahead.”

Dahrah Muhammad
BA Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Founder of Musa’s World

Neil Eelman - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“Life is more difficult now than many of us have ever experienced. We are all feeling the impact of the pandemic and long-simmering civil inequalities, some unfortunately more than others. Yet, as David Rockefeller once put it, ‘If necessity is the mother of invention, discontent is the father of progress.’

The necessity and discontent present today are unequivocal. It is clear we need to reinvent ourselves — as individuals, communities and as a society. The Class of 2020 must lead the charge, by campaigning for reform, seeking cures and finding a better way forward. We can no longer hide behind collective inaction as an excuse for maintaining the status quo.”

Neil Eelman
BS Computer Engineering
Fulbright Study/Research Grant Alternate to the Netherlands, 2020-21 // Gilman International Scholarship to the Netherlands, 2019 // Drexel Fellowship Ambassador, 2019-20

Olivia D'Alessandro - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“My key advice to my fellow 2020 graduates is to continue to stay optimistic as we make this transition out of college and into the workforce. In the famous words of Dr. Seuss, ‘And you will succeed? Yes, you will Indeed! 98 3/4 percent guaranteed.’ I believe if we can graduate in the middle of a pandemic, we can do anything!”

Olivia D'Alessandro
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Drexel University Emergency Medical Services (Drexel EMS)

Anna Hughes - 20 Thoughts From the Drexel University Class of 2020“‘Kia kaha’ — this is a phrase of the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand, meaning ‘stay strong.’ Encourage and support both yourself and others in challenging times. Be patient, and remain confident. Congrats!”

Anna Hughes
BSBA Management Information Systems & Business Analytics
Drexel Squash

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