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After being delayed for a year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 celebrated with a formal commencement ceremony during Fall Homecoming and CE Weekend. Held on Saturday, October 2 at the Peabody Hotel, the ceremony saw nearly 100 graduates return in cap and gown for their deferred ceremony.
Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO President, noted in his address to the class that 25 percent of graduates had completed a residency, while 20 members of the class had married. In fact, several members of the class were in absentia as they attended the wedding of Haylee Taylor, OD ’20, on the same day.
Since receiving their diplomas by mail in May 2020, the class had welcomed four babies, with three on the way as of this year’s ceremony.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who had been scheduled to speak to the class at its original ceremony, delivered short remarks by video. Class Vice President Cassandra Croy, OD ’20, and Class Secretary Hayley Vasilko, OD ’20, delivered class comments in which they celebrated the class’s historic distinction as the only optometry students to have graduated officially in the year 2020, a date with optometric significance.
In lieu of honorary degrees traditionally presented during commencement, alumni awards were bestowed on two outstanding individuals. Jon Reid, OD ’12, received the Young Alumni Award, while the late Jeff Foster, OD ’81, posthumously was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor awarded by the college.
Torrie Garner, OD ’20, was recognized as Class Salutatorian, followed by Callie Mashburn, OD ’20, being recognized as Class Valedictorian. A reception honoring the class followed the ceremony.
The ceremony was livestreamed and recorded:
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