North Central College In-Person Commencement for 2020 and 2021 Grads

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2020 and 2021 Commencement

“To the distinguished members of the classes of 2020 and 2021, I am pleased that you are all able to be here with us today,” said North Central College President Troy Hammond.

North Central College is one of the few in the Chicagoland area to have in-person commencement ceremonies this year.

The college held four outdoor ceremonies over the weekend for 2020 and 2021 grads. Families were socially distanced in pods of four in the bleachers, graduates wore masks and were socially distanced, and they practiced other COVID precautions.

“This plan is a lot of hard work from a lot of people. I’m very proud of all that’s been done to make this possible,” said Hammond. “It’s well deserved by our graduates.”

Samantha Sowa

December 2020 grad Samantha Sowa first marked this milestone virtually last year.

“I was still very grateful that they were going to do something for the class of 2020 grads so they’d be able to still celebrate this incredible milestone of finishing your undergraduate, especially for me as a first-generation college student that was huge,” said Sowa. “That was a huge stepping stone. I’m the first in my family to be able to do it.”

At her in-person ceremony, she was able to graduate with friends who she’s missed seeing, and celebrate her accomplishment.

“I’m just very excited to take part and let my family share and celebrate in this awesome milestone as well,” said Sowa.

Emilio Lopez

2021 grad, Emilio Lopez, is also a first-generation college student.

“I’m super thankful that I have the opportunity to actually walk across the stage, be able to have a cap and gown on, and just be a kind of symbol for both my immediate family – my younger sister and older sister. As well as to my extended family like my younger nieces and nephews and my cousins that are still growing up,” said Lopez. “That they can look at me and say, there are people in our family that have made it to the point of college and graduating college and that it is possible.”

Sowa currently works as an actuarial specialist at Northwestern Mutual and Lopez will be commissioning as a second lieutenant in the military.

270 class of 2020 grads and 614 class of 2021 graduates participated in North Central College’s commencement ceremonies this year.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.