Graduating in the Face of a Pandemic

Photo Credit to Wix Article by Sheila Lim

It is a bittersweet moment for the Class of 2020. No one would have exactly envisioned the way graduating students would be missing one of the major milestones in their lives. What would normally be a highly anticipated moment has been turned upside down with the pandemic wrecking havoc across the globe.

This is undoubtedly a confusing and harrowing time but there are much to takeaway and valuable lessons to remember. Can you think of a time when we’ve seen so much collective energy through the partnerships of various organisations, leaders and institutions that came together to commemorate celebrations and special performances within a virtual space? Not really, 2020 is a time like no other and it can be thought of as a momentous period in history to imagine a better future.

Through it all, the silver lining of cancelled physical ceremonies is the opportunity for these students to celebrate with their favourites artists and hear commencement speeches by top leaders all together. When we look back on this unprecedented time, we will remember how we defined ourselves by love, hope and resilience for the community, how in this trying times, we came to truly understand the strength of our potentials.

We are seeing celebrations now happening virtually and moving to online platforms, the music industry has once again shone through with its ability to adapt and stand in unity to celebrate a milestone for the Class of 2020.

Here are some of the upcoming virtual events and others that took place most recently:

  • Graduation 2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020 (15 May 2020)

Oprah Winfrey gave a live-streamed commencement address, along with guest performances by the likes of Miley Cyrus, John Mayer, Selena Gomez, and Cardi B.

Taking on a different medium of an audio podcast, iHeartRadio partnered with some of the biggest names across the industries such as John Legend, Halsey and Bill & Melinda Gates to deliver commencement speeches for the graduating students.

Taking place inside a replica of UC Berkeley Campus designed in Minecraft, American duo, BEAUZ, conceptualised the idea of a virtual ceremony to mark the celebratory milestone for the Class of 2020. This special event tapped into the gaming space and

Hosted by Lebron James, this virtual graduation ceremony also featured a host of actors and performing artists for the millions of graduating high school students in America.

Barack and Michelle Obama each delivered their commencement speeches, along with other guests such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kelly Rowland and Maluma. BTS also performed at the virtual after party.

Oprah delivered in her inspirational message on Facebook, "You’re also a united class, the pandemic class, that has the entire world striving to graduate with you. But even though there may not be pomp because of our circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion and energy and hope.”

In a similar vein, what the music industry can be proud of is that we are collectively connecting with large audiences and live experiences even in the face of a pandemic. The technological, musical and creative amplification of such events will serve as a highlight to remind us that it’s possible to connect audiences on a global level although we are individually apart. Even when live concerts are largely at a standstill for the foreseeable future, we are raising the bars when it comes to harnessing the creativity of the resources still available and seeing humanity band together for a good cause.

In all, while the pandemic has shaken up the status quo and pull back the curtain on certain hard truths, what will remain for the class of 2020 are the true values to live by. There may not be prom parties, physical ceremonies or celebratory processions, but graduation is a tremendous achievement that everyone in the community will toast to. On a larger scale, as we acknowledge that the effects of the global crisis will spill over indefinitely, and it’s unlikely that we will return to the pre-pandemic days anytime in the near future, there is nothing more heart- warming and reassuring than knowing that music will always be a universal language that will get us through any storm as long as we are together.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020, these are the times that will definitely be etched close to your heart!

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