Lessons to be Learned From the Class of 2022
June 10, 2022
I attended the Drexel graduation ceremonies over the past two days not as a faculty member or an Assistant Dean, but rather as a parent. I carefully listened to the words of encouragement and accomplishment, ones I have often delivered, and those words were wholeheartedly deserved. However, I also listened to graduates, deans, and guest speakers talk about this class, the class of 2022, and the resilience shown as this class entered college and graduate school with all the hopes and dreams of those before them. But life had other plans. The class of 2022 faced polarizing politics, the impeachment of a president, a racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd and the many others before him, more mass shootings than seem believable, and then there was the pandemic, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and more mass shootings, including a recent one in our beloved city.
This class of 2022 did not throw their arms up and give up. This class continued to attend classes, they worked in healthcare, they volunteered and sent relief to victims of violence and of war, and they protested. This class rose to the many challenges life and the world kept delivering. This class is the epitome of resilience. And there are lessons we all can learn from these newly minted Drexel graduates.
Older generations often speak about the lessons the “youngins” need to learn, but in this moment, I believe it is the rest of us, older and younger, who need to learn from the Class of 2022. First, they are committed to change and community engagement. According to Charity Times, volunteer rates for this age group rose 30-40% over the past couple of years. This is admirable, but more important, it shows the Class of 2022’s commitment to the common good. Second, despite the barriers and roadblocks life continually placed in their way, the Class of 2022 kept moving forward. Sure, there were times when it was not fun, and they felt the grief over the loss of what they had expected, and anxiety ran high, but they sat in their bedrooms on Zoom for hours and hours each day, they did their work, and when they were able to come back to campus, they wore their masks. There were no mask revolts in the classrooms or in campus buildings. The Class of 2022, saw the benefits of being together, they donned their masks to protect their professors and classmates out of compassion and demonstrated their humanity. Finally, as evidenced over the past few years, life is difficult, and yet the Class of 2022 has shown us that despite the challenges, the hurdles, the pain, the horror, and unknown, they still had hope. I can think of no better lesson to learn from the Class of 2022. They were beaten down in a way most of us will never be able to understand, and they remain hopeful for what tomorrow will bring.
So, to each and every member of the Class of 2022, I salute you and thank you for showing us what resilience truly looks like. There is no doubt you will go on to do great things – big and small, seen and unseen, recognized and unrecognized – we will all be the beneficiaries of your talent, time, and treasures.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor, Goodwin College