Award-winning writer and novelist Chimamanda Adichie on Monday paid tribute to the 2020 Graduating Class of the University of Pennsylvania charging them to help change the world.
Delivering the commencement speech at the university – which she did virtually – Adichie noted that it was a strange time to be graduating.
“I can imagine that it must also be a difficult time, a confusing time, a disorienting time but if there is anything to be said for this strange time in which we find ourselves, it is this, that for you graduating at this time it is among other things an opportunity to start to think about the kind of world that we want to remake.”
She said she found the achievements of the graduating class impressive.
“I do have to say that I am most moved by the sacrifices that you’ve made, the sacrifices that you’ve had to make – I think even that is an achievement.”
Adichie had been tapped back in February to deliver the Ivy League University’s commencement speech this month, making her the first black woman to achieve the feat at the institution after then-US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Harris did so 42 years ago.But the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in major cities across the globe meant the ceremony had to be held virtually.
On Monday morning, the graduating class was joined by students, alumni, associates, teaching, and non-teaching staff worldwide to mark the occasion.
During the graduation ceremony, a special tribute was paid to the graduating students including special remarks from the President, Provost, students’ performances and the conferral of degrees.
Adichie, who also received an honorary doctorate degree from the university, encouraged the graduands to remain strong and focused amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“These may be strange times – they certainly are for me – but I want to urge you to remember that there is so much to celebrate. You’ve done it. You’ve graduated. Congratulations,” she said.
According to the university, the 264th Commencement Day event will hold physically on May 22 & 23, 2021.
“…when we all plan to be together again, taking our traditional march down Locust Walk to the Class of 2020 Commencement Celebration in Franklin Field,” the school wrote on its website.
On the same day, the institution said, Adichie will physically re-address the Class of 2020 and fully give her commencement speech on that day.
Adichie told the graduands, “I’m looking forward very much to addressing you in Franklin field sometime in the future and looking forward very much to meeting you.”