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Molloy College holds virtual graduation ceremony for class of 2020

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Molloy College celebrated its class of 2020 with a virtual commencement ceremony via YouTube live-stream Monday night.

Graduation speakers sent in pre-recorded video messages, which were compiled, linked with music and streamed online beginning at 6 p.m. More than 1,500 households viewed the video in real time, and some left comments congratulating the graduates in the chat section.

The virtual ceremony was Molloy President Dr. Drew Bogner’s final commencement after 20 years of serving the institution. “I assure you that being in this digital space and not in person is an experience I never wanted,” Bogner said. “I miss the excitement that fills the arena, the buzz of 10,000 voices, the joyful gathering of parents, spouses, children, relatives and friends.

“I miss the pomp, the tradition-laden procession, the personalized mortarboards,” he continued. “I miss the hoots and hollers, the shout-outs. I miss the selfies. I miss your well-practiced and spontaneous victory celebrations. I miss the handshakes, all 1,200 of them. Frankly, I miss all of you.”

Bogner spoke of the challenges of living during a pandemic, and the innovations that has brought about. He called on the students to reflect deeply on their emotions at this pivotal time in their lives, and to use them to change the world.

“Through this pandemic, we have seen more clearly the inequities in our society,” he said. “Now that your eyes can see these cracks, plain and stark, and your heart feels the pain, sharp and real, what will you do to fix it? Will you be what we expect every Molloy graduate to be — a transformative agent for good?

“Your generation will forever be linked to the coronavirus pandemic,” Bogner added. “But you, each of you, has the power to determine what the legacy will be to society from this cataclysmic event.”

Valedictorian James Moore also acknowledged the immense challenges he and his fellow graduates face, but also recognized the “tenacity and perseverance” that have led them to success. “Although this is not the graduation that we planned to commemorate this accomplishment,” Moore said, “it does not diminish the pride every graduate should have on this day.”

Salutatorian Dharana Prasad expressed her confidence in the class of 2020’s future success. “Wherever our lives take us, remember to be kind, be brave and dream big,” she told her fellow graduates. “I hope we all leave here today with the same sense of hope and determination we had when we entered Molloy College.”

Dr. Ann Z. Branchini, the college’s vice president of academic affairs, conferred 827 bachelor’s degrees, 440 master’s and 20 doctorates as “Pomp and Circumstance” played in the background of a slideshow with the names and photos of the graduates.

During the ceremony, Erin McGrath, a member of the class of 2021, played bagpipes, Cameron Scofield sang the national anthem, and Arturo Hernan sang the college’s alma mater. Sister Pat McVetty, of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, the founders of the college, also offered parting words to the graduates, and to Bogner.

“With profound gratitude and abundant joy,” McVetty said, “we give thanks to each one of you and Dr. Bogner’s incredible legacy of leadership while serving as president for these past 20 years.”