Pandemic or Not, SNHU Graduates Persisted
Determination has always been a key characteristic of Southern New Hampshire University graduates but never more so than within the 43,000 students who persisted throughout the pandemic in completing their degree programs. While those graduates from the spring and fall of 2020 and spring 2021 did not have an opportunity to walk across the stage this weekend, they did join in 68 virtual Commencement ceremonies to celebrate their hard-earned success.
SNHU President Paul LeBlanc said this may not have been the year or experience they anticipated but their achievements are a testimony to their grit and resilience. He reminded them not to dwell on what might have been but rather to focus instead on their triumphs – and there were many.
“It will be in some ways the year you remember best. It was a year in which you overcame so much and you achieved so much,” LeBlanc said. “Know that we couldn’t be prouder; we couldn’t be happier for you – and we welcome you into the SNHU alumni family.”
And, that alumni family is more than 155,000-member strong globally. This year’s graduates represent all 50 states and 89 countries. Of the 43,000 degrees conferred during the pandemic, there were a dozen doctoral degrees, more than 10,750 master’s degrees, over 26,000 bachelor’s degrees and 6,000 associate degrees.
Despite the many challenges of COVID-19, 68% of undergraduate learners earned academic honors. More than 4,000 graduates are military-affiliated, and in a year with such a focus on front-line workers, 4,800 healthcare degrees were awarded.
Commencement speaker Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of psychology and head of Silliman College at Yale University, congratulated graduates on all of their accomplishments, big and small, they experienced over the last few years. Santos, who also hosts the phenomenally successful podcast, “The Happiness Lab,” said, “I also want to congratulate you that you managed to achieve all these accomplishments during one of the most challenging times our country and our world has ever seen.”
Graduate Laura Gaughan completed her bachelor’s in human services while battling a traumatic brain injury and raising seven kids as a stay-at-home mom. Her experience as a foster mom fueled her passion for helping others, leading to her degree and a new role as a liaison between the Department of Children and Families (DCF) staff and foster parents in Massachusetts.
Mother and son Tara and George Conrad embarked on master’s degree programs together, looking forward to completing their MFA and MBA, respectively, at the same time and traveling to New Hampshire for graduation. They didn’t let the pandemic curtail their celebration; they created a family celebration in Pennsylvania, in full regalia, to mark their notable achievements.
The same determination that allowed SNHU graduates to complete their degrees, regardless of the challenges, found its way to creating very personal celebratory moments. The SNHU community took to social media to share emotional video clips of diplomas received, festivities, photoshoots in caps and gowns, final grades and proud family members proclaiming, “Congratulations, you did it!” Pandemic or not, they persisted.
View our Commencement Infographic to learn more about the 2020 and 2021 graduates of Southern New Hampshire University.Pamme Boutselis is a writer and senior content director in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb or connect on LinkedIn.
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