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Deferred Yet Conferred

It may not have been the Commencement anyone anticipated at the start of the year, but the graduates of 2020 celebrated with gusto nonetheless

August 26, 2020

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

On August 16, Mount Saint Mary’s University Commencement 2020 arrived for the official celebration of this year’s graduates. The jubilation was evident by those graduates who shared recordings over Zoom of their home celebrations during the dance party that followed the ceremony and conferring of degrees.

Some graduates donned their full graduation regalia, others sported just their caps or their hoods. Some caps and gowns were hung on walls in a place of honor in family homes during the festivities, which ranged from raising a glass of champagne with parents or spouses to larger backyard barbecues to more formal indoor settings. Regardless of the setting, there was something in common in the atmosphere in every Zoom shot: plenty of smiles, laughter, and pride in each graduate’s accomplishment. 

President Ann McElaney-Johnson speaks to graduates in 2020's virtual Commencement ceremony
President Ann McElaney-Johnson speaks to graduates in 2020's virtual Commencement ceremony

“This year has been enormously challenging,” said President Ann McElaney-Johnson, “and you, the graduates of the Class of 2020, rose above every obstacle, met every challenge and persisted. You inspire us. We are so proud of you.”

The format for Commencement was the same for both graduate and undergraduate ceremonies. Both had a number of speeches, although all were shorter than during traditional Commencement in consideration of families having to gather around a computer screen for the virtual event. The conferring of degrees was also broken up into smaller groups by type of degree. A dance party followed both ceremonies.

Both dance parties were run by DJ Sophenom, who may be familiar to those who listen to Power 106 FM’s weekly Flava Unit. She selected from the many Zoom recordings coming in from graduates celebrating with their families interspersed with those from faculty and staff.  

DJ Sophenom entertained graduates, their families and friends, and numerous faculty and staff during two post Commencement dance parties
DJ Sophenom entertained graduates, their families and friends, and numerous faculty and staff during two post Commencement dance parties

The DJs upbeat songs selections ranged from current hits to some oldies such as Berlin’s ‘80s hit “The Metro” and “No Rompas Mi Corazon,” Caballo Dorado’s 1994 Spanish version of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” from two years prior. Not surprisingly, DJ Sophenom found Zoom cam groups of people doing the line dance together, no cowboy boots required. The 1993 Los del Rio hit “Macarena” was another popular song, although it appeared that some partiers were conflicted over the order of the dance moves.

Graduates, family and friends who want to revisit any part of the pomp and circumstance or who were unable to “attend” the virtual event are able to go back to the Commencement page for the ceremony and the conferring of degrees.

The graduate ceremony began at 11:00, and the undergraduate ceremony was held at 2:00. Both were followed by conferring of degrees and an hour-long dance party.

 Speakers common to both ceremonies:

  • Ann McElaney-Johnson, MSMU president
  • Holly J. Mitchell, MSMU Legislator in Residence and state senator
  • Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Mayor
  • Nury Martinez, president, Los Angeles City Council
  • Geena Davis, actress and founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary's University

Graduate Commencement speaker and student speaker:

  • Maria S. Salinas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Andrea Chavez, MA, instructional design from the education department

Undergraduate celebrity message, Commencement speaker and student speakers:

  • Cecilia R. Aragon, PhD, a professor in the department of human centered design and engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle and world medalist in aerobatic flying
  • Jasmine Siguenza AA, business administration
  • Georgia Aguilar, BA, global politics
  • Alina Asmarian, BA, liberal arts with a minor in psychology
  • Taye Diggs, actor

All degrees were conferred by Tom Blumenthal, chair of the board of trustees.