The resilient class of 2020

The resilient class of 2020

University student Cassie Ehleringer had a small watch party with her immediate family at her parent’s house and said it felt very special as she sat in the living room watching the ceremony with her graduation cap on.

Student sits in living room with a cap and gown on with the University of Nevada, Reno commencement program on the television.

Cassie Ehleringer graduated this past weekend and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in hydrogeology and a minor in political science. 

“These past few months have been crazy, to say the least,” Ehleringer said. “Four and a half years ago I could not have imagined that I would be finishing my bachelor’s degree under these circumstances and that I would have a virtual Commencement Ceremony. Although my Commencement was not what I hoped it would be, the virtual ceremony was about as close as it could get under the circumstances. I was so grateful that I got to celebrate this momentous occasion with my family.”

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The University’s virtual Commencement exercises included Spring 2020 graduates in a morning ceremony and Summer and Winter graduates in an afternoon ceremony. The University conferred 3,143 degrees and certificates this past spring. With the combination of summer (550) and fall (1,399) degrees, the University conferred 1,949 degrees and certificates this winter.

Cassie Ehleringer

“Even as I heard my name announced during the ceremony, I still couldn’t believe that I am actually graduating.”

Ehleringer had a small watch party with her immediate family at her parent’s house and she said it felt very special as she sat in the living room watching the ceremony with her graduation cap on. At the end of the commencement weekend, there were more than 1,100 views of the Spring ceremony and nearly 2,100 views of the Winter ceremony.

“I very much enjoyed hearing all of the Commencement speeches, especially President Sandoval’s,” she said. “His speech reminded me that we are not the first graduating class to face adversity. It was very inspiring to hear about the class of 1919 and to know that we are not alone in facing the difficulties of finishing college amid a pandemic. We learn so much about ourselves and others in times of struggle.”

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Given the circumstances around the coronavirus pandemic, Commencement messages and musical arrangements were pre-recorded specifically for the 2020 graduating class and designed to give the event a true live-stream feel. All videos were recorded keeping in-line with state and county COVID-19 guidelines at the time of filming.

“All things are temporary, good and bad, but all we can do is make the best of any situation,” Ehleringer said. “I am so proud of what I and the Class of 2020 have accomplished. We faced hardship and some disappointments along the way, but we all made it through in the end. I will take pride in knowing that I am among such a resilient graduating class.”

Ehleringer said if she had the opportunity to tell her freshman self something, knowing what she knows now, it would be to take more time to enjoy all the small moments of her adventure and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way.

“Some of my favorite memories during my time here include working at the Office of Admissions and Records, my time in the Nevada Student Ambassadors organization, and my summer geology field camp,” Ehleringer said. “To me, being a member of the Wolf Pack means family. The students and faculty at the University have made this place feel like a second home.”

She will continue her educational journey this spring as a graduate student in the Master of Public Administration program through the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts.

“My time as an undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Reno is over, but I am very excited to start my master’s degree in public administration this coming spring,” she said.

Ehleringer plans to use both her hydrogeology background and public administration education to make a difference in water policies in the United States or internationally.


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