College to host celebration ceremony for Class of 2022.5

Annie Lu

This December, the College will host an official celebration ceremony for mid-cycle seniors — the Class of 2022.5 — for the first time, in light of increased numbers of students taking time off during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will take place on Dec. 11 in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance and include remarks from College administrators and a student speaker, a musical performance, and a casual brunch. 

Last year, the College hosted a lunch to celebrate members of the Class of 2021.5, the first celebration for mid-cycle graduates, according to Director of Commencement and Academic Events Carrie Greene ’02. Approximately 30 people attended, including students from the Class of 2021.5 and staff and faculty members from the dean’s office, the chaplains’ office, the alumni office, the athletics department, and the Career Center. This year, the dean’s office and the College marshal’s office began planning a larger celebration event for the Class of 2022.5, which would be the first official such ceremony. “These events are directly related to the increased number of students taking a semester off during the pandemic,” Greene said. 

According to Greene, there are 74 students in the Class of 2022.5, while there were 67 graduates in the Class of 2021.5. “Pre-COVID, we typically had 15-25 what we called ‘early grads’ — students who finished up in the fall but would not officially graduate until the spring,” Greene said. “We never [had] the large cohorts we are seeing now.”

The College expects to see two more large cohorts of mid-cycle students, Greene said. “After that, it may drop back down, or it may not,” she continued. “We’ll have to see.”

The 74 students who will finish their degree requirements at the end of fall 2022 or Winter Study 2023 were invited to attend the Dec. 11 event along with their friends and family members. Forty-two students had RSVPed for a total of just over 300 attendees as of the Nov. 28 deadline, according to Greene.

At the December ceremony, President Maud S. Mandel, Dean of the College Gretchen Long, Chaplain to the College Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, and Catholic Chaplain Bridget Power will deliver remarks — as will the student speaker, Nandini Seetharaman ’22.5. Kara Hadden ’22.5, the class’s student musician, will also perform. 

Hadden expressed her appreciation for such an event despite not knowing much about it initially. “I had sort of been planning to attend, but I guess I missed [the RSVP deadline],” Hadden said. Only after she received an email from one of the organizers informing her that she had been nominated by her class to perform at the ceremony did Hadden remember the event. Hadden is a theatre major and sings, but she said she would not call herself a musician. Nevertheless, she accepted the nomination to be class musician. “I’m excited,” she said. “I think it will be fun.”

Hadden said she plans to sing the David Bowie song “Five Years” at the ceremony — partly to reference the extra time the Class of 2022.5 will have spent in college. “I was like, ‘I might as well do something campy and weird because it’s a fake graduation,’” she said. “You’ve got to keep them on their toes.” 

Despite the celebratory intent behind the Dec. 11 event, it will not carry the same energy as a regular graduation, Hadden said. “I still have finals after the ceremony, and I’m going to be here for Winter Study, so it’s not like I’m getting a degree,” she explained. “I’ll have papers to write — probably that day. I’m not conceiving of it as a graduation at all. But it’s a nice thing to do, and I’m glad to have something to invite my family to.” 

According to Greene, the College is planning to hold similar events for the next year or two to accommodate the students who were most likely to have altered the timeline of their graduation because of the pandemic. “After that, we’ll see if the students are interested,” she said.