2020 Commencement being held at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium on Sept. 10, 2021. The class of 2020 returned to campus one last time for their in-person graduation. MORGAN CASEY / THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University held an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 on Sept. 10 to celebrate their graduation achievements during the ongoing pandemic.

On Friday evening, Stony Brook University (SBU) held an in-person graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Their original commemoration was scheduled for May 22, 2020, but was moved online due to COVID-19. Many graduating seniors were angry at the time of the decision, calling the virtual ceremony “a slap in the face” to their years of hard work and dedication to academics at Stony Brook.

When the special commencement was announced in May, graduates were excited about the prospect of an in-person ceremony, but many were unable to attend because of new jobs and educational opportunities found in the time since they received their degrees.

“One of my friends is in Harvard,” Tuba Thakir, a recent graduate in pharmacology medicine, said at the ceremony. “She can’t come in because she’s far away, doing some research thereafter her master’s.”


Although many graduates shared doubts of low turnout, the commencement was received positively by those present at the ceremony. 

Catherine Duffy, an associate director of student support at the University who served as a marshall in the ceremony, said that about 1,500 people attended.  

“It’s amazing today to see this turnout,” Duffy said. “It’s a big deal, you know; it’s really important to give students the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and to reflect upon them.”

The commencement ceremony recognized graduates of the class of 2020 and had them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and recognition for honor’s achievements, postdoctorates, doctorates, masters and undergraduate programs.


Following the ceremony was a reception for attendees at the Stony Brook Union offering Career Center services and senior portraits. The reception also provided opportunities for family, friends and loved ones to reconnect and celebrate the graduates after the long pandemic year. 

Virginia Maresca, an English professor at St. John’s University, attended the SBU ceremony for her boyfriend who finished his degree in chemical engineering this past year.

“It’s nice… to finally have them walk and you know, sharing their happiness and hard work,” Maresca said. “And just finally, you know, to see his friends again after a year.”

Graduates attending the ceremony also shared Maresca’s sentiments. 

“I’m happy that they’re doing [the commencement] in-person; I’m so excited,” Thakir said.


During her address at the ceremony, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis applauded the graduates.

“We are so honored to finally celebrate the class that gave real meaning to the phrase Stony Brook Strong,” McInnis said. “Congratulations, class of 2020.” 


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