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Lycoming grads ‘persisted in the face of challenges’

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent A graduate displays his diploma to his parents at the 174th annual commencement ceremony at Lycoming College on Saturday.

On the surface, much about the Lycoming College class of 2022 seems typical of recent classes. The class is highly diverse, has a wide geographic distribution and a review of contributions in leadership and successes is also in line with previous classes, according to Lycoming College President Dr. Kent C. Trachte.

“We all know, however, that your journey was not normal,” said Trachte as he addressed the class of 2022 on Saturday during the 174th annual commencement.

“You experienced college under unparalleled adversity. Your four years at Lycoming College have been different than from any other class in the institution’s 209 year history because of course the global pandemic disrupted five of your eight semesters,” Trachte said.

Trachte praised the class for how they faced massive challenges during a pandemic lasting much longer than anticipated and included remote learning and an array of COVID protocols upon returning to campus at a time when vaccines and N95 masks were not widely available.

“You, the class of 2022, persisted in the face of the challenges posed by the virus and so doing you distinguished your class from all others who have preceded you,” Trachte added.

Trachte applauded the class of 2022 for having grit, using their voices, promoting change, thinking deeply and acting boldly.

Senior class speaker Fayla Guerin delivered an empowered address to her fellow seniors where she compared their college experience to a movie. Guerin, a corporate communication major with a minor in film and video arts, is the first Black female president of the Student Senate in the history of the college.

“When we were little, we watched movies about college and honestly, some of us were expecting our college experiences to be like those movies,” Guerin said.

Guerin presented a trailer of the movie in four acts representing each of their four years of college. The movie opened during move-in weekend in August 2018, when no one knew each other or what to expect, just that they were at the

beginning of an adventure. Guerin described the spring of their sophomore year as the climax of their movie, when the country shut down due to COVID over spring break.

“We stayed home and quarantined with our families. We didn’t know what would happen, we just knew classes were online,” Guerin said.

Guerin explained that their junior year was the beginning of their new normal without social gatherings or fun for their class. She added that the experience brought the class closer together.

The final act represented the last memories they will make as college students and when they saw their dreams materialize.

“Class of 2022, this not a goodbye to the movie we have created, but hello to our next script in the making,” Guerin added.

The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Brenda P. Alston-Mills (’66), Professor Emeritus North Carolina University.

“We are here to pay tribute to a very deserving graduating class of 2022 with highest praise for their endurance, perseverance through difficult and challenging times in this history,” Alston-Mills said.

Alston-Mills said students have taught her as much as she has taught them, and her mantra has always been to take her guidance and pass it forward.

Alston-Mills explained that when it comes to determining the direction of the pass, context is everything and when there is a snag in the pass students need to breathe deeply and assess. The positive direction may not always be the forward direction.

“It may be time to regroup, to rethink the game plan,” Alston-Mills added. She added that asking yourself if the problem is your fault, if you can control it, and if it is life-threatening can help determine direction. Students also need to assess what went right, and not just what went wrong.

Alston-Mills said that evaluating the positives, using what you have learned and being aware of identifiers will help you determine what else you need to do and who you may need to call upon for help.

Alston-Mills encouraged students to always look back and remember those who passed it forward to them and reflect on who may be following in their footsteps.

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