Clarkson celebrated the Class of 2020 with their commencement ceremony today in Cheel Arena. This Commencement ceremony recognized the 949 May 2020, August 2019 and December 2019 graduates, who have earned 22 doctor of philosophy degrees, 20 doctor of physical therapy degrees, 263 master’s degrees, eight advanced certificates and 636 bachelor’s degrees, as well as two honorary degree recipients. Two student and two faculty members were also recognized for awards they received.
In addition to the graduating students, receiving honorary doctor of science degrees and addressing students, families and guests were W. John Kress, distinguished scientist and curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and Nagi G. Naganathan MS‘81, president of Oregon Institute of Technology.
Kress spoke about climate change and how the Class of 2020 can help. “As more and more carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere by people burning fossil fuels, the power of trees to suck carbon dioxide out of the air through photosynthesis is tremendous. In order to control climate change we need to promote reforestation on every continent, plant more trees, and conserve the forests that currently exist,” Kress said.
“You, the graduating class, are the generation that must be at the vanguard of a global movement to promote change in a right direction. It is most important that you as emerging citizens of our planet should graduate from Clarkson University with a new awareness and concern for the Earth,” Kress said.
Naganathan spoke about how one never quite knows what lies ahead in their lives, as seen by the events of 2020. “I didn’t know where I was going, and all of the sudden, I applied, because my friend was attending Clarkson. I got a scholarship to come here for a master’s degree,” he said.
“To do the things I’m doing, Clarkson not only got me started in terms of my lifetime service to my education, it allowed me to grow as a person and deal with the surprises that life is full of. Life is full of forks and surprises and resets. You all handled it beautifully in 2020 when it came up and to deal with a pandemic too, and persisting and graduating too. I am very proud to be a part of this 125 year storied history of Clarkson and I am deeply grateful for the start I got here. One thing I want to leave you with; build on the relationships you have made here, they will go a long way,” Naganathan said.