Buffalo, NY - The proverbial pomp that accompanies commencement gave way to more circumstance this spring. Covid-19 protocols disrupted the familiar rhythm of graduation season. Still, Canisius adapted – as it did so many times this past year – and hosted a hybrid affair
The virtual portion of graduation included the traditional commencement and student speaker addresses, and the granting of honorary degrees, which were pre-recorded. Canisius complemented the virtual component of commencement with a series of sized-down and socially
distanced in-person graduation walks for the Class of 2021 – as well as the Sesquicentennial Class of 2020. “The pandemic prevented the Class of 2020 from having a live commencement ceremony last spring so it was important for us to invite those graduates back to campus
for an opportunity to walk across the stage in their caps and gowns,” says Canisius President John J. Hurley.
Over the course of two weeks, Canisius held 10 in-person graduation walks, and conferred 472 undergraduate and 399 graduate degrees to students from the Class of 2021.
The Class of 2021 will forever be remembered as the one that persevered through two-and-a-half semesters of Covid-19 uncertainty and restrictions. Certainly, there’s a tendency to think of all that was lost: The Canisius community mourned the loss of loved ones, and grieved over
its loss of freedom, confidence and even hope. But amidst all the losses, Canisius students discovered the kind of individuals they want to be and found the voice they want to have.
These notions are expressed in the excerpts from our student speakers.
Emlye Watkins ’20
“Despite the tremendous loss we endured, our Canisius roots gave us
a strong foundation to face, process, grieve and grow through this
experience, and will only continue to do so. Canisius was personal.
There was a lot built into our time here that would help us face realworld
things. And I know graduating today … I’ve started to become
the person I wanted to be all along. I hope you have too.”
Ursula Jean G. Magsayo MS ’20
“Our experience here together … has been felt together, and in the feelings we find a sense of
interconnectedness with one another and have found growth within ourselves. The Canisius
College experience means getting a seat at the table, and Canisius College invites you to
make change within the self and within one another through the relationships you and I have
fostered. And because of this, there is no limit to what a Canisius College graduate can do.”
Rebecca Praetzel ’21
“At Canisius, we learned the importance of caring for our minds and bodies but also our
spirits, which all too often the world forgets to do. We have been inspired to change the
world for the better … We have the strength of God with us so that we challenge what society presents us rather than just
accepting what the world tells us ... and we have the example of Jesus to guide us in standing firm in love and truth, in the
face of adversity, hate, violence or judgement.”
Cliff-Simon Vital MS ’21
“When I think about my time at Canisius, I think about the classes and faculty that prepared me, the thesis that challenged
me, the staff that supported me, and the peers who raised and pushed me forward. Graduating today from Canisius means
I am Jesuit educated. I can confidently say that I am a wellinformed global citizen ready to be a champion for all students,
advocate for those who cannot, stand with the marginalized, and lead with care and integrity.”