Dear Graduate and Professional Students in the Class of 2020,
Congratulations to all of you for your accomplishments and your successes! You have achieved remarkable things during an unprecedented time. While many of you have been working on your degree for several years, I am sure that when you look back on your time at the University of Pittsburgh, the last two months will have extra significance as part of your Pitt experience and education. Clearly, no one expected that this is what the semester before your graduation would be like. But from my perspective, I am proud of how the Pitt community has come together in this moment. Faced with a once-in-a-century crisis, students, faculty and staff have shown resilience and creativity—and most importantly compassion. Some of you have participated in research that may lead to treatments for this novel coronavirus, and others have supported our health care as it prepares to meet this challenge. All of you have much to be proud of as you have overcome many obstacles in your journey to today.
We don’t yet know what long-term impact this crisis will have on our economy and our society, but I hope that for many of you it has shown you how resilient and determined you can be. The education that you have gained—whether in nursing or literature—has prepared you to succeed in this changed world and to help put things back together better than before. You have risen to this challenge and learned skills and lessons that will be there for you as you face difficulties in the future. I hope that you take a moment to commemorate your remarkable achievements during today’s virtual celebration at 11:30 AM EST (Sunday April 26th) and by viewing remarks from your classmates that we have collected. If you have your own thoughts to share, I encourage you to use the hashtag #PittGrad20 on social media.
So many people have selflessly supported students and other members of the Pitt community in the last few weeks and throughout your time at Pitt. I have participated in hours of discussions and conversations about how to teach, learn, connect, and thrive in this new environment. Throughout these Skype calls and Zoom meetings, people have approached this challenge with optimism and with a focus on the mission and values of the University and a commitment to students. I hope that you take a moment to think about those who have supported you in your efforts and perhaps send them a note of thanks.
As you move on from Pitt, remember that you are still connected to the Pitt community in many ways. The Pitt Alumni Association (PAA) is here for you. In support of the Class of 2020, the PAA in partnership with the Career Center is planning a series of webinars to help you launch your path forward. For the first event scheduled on April 28, Joan Kuhl (CBA ’01) will present strategies to cultivate confidence and courage that will you stay focused on your goals and lead yourself and others through crisis. Additional programs in this series will soon be posted.
For our graduates in tech fields, your @pitt.edu email address provides you free membership access to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, a local resource for Pittsburgh’s tech sector from hardware and IT to life sciences and application developers. Membership has many benefits including opportunities to network with professionals in business, educational, governmental, and nonprofit organizations and expand your network of colleagues who can support your career development. You may be interested in the Hire Up Virtual Career Fair on May 27, 2020.
Over the last few years, we have tried to make it easier to connect with former and new mentors in the Pitt community through Pitt Commons. Through this platform you can also volunteer to connect with the next generation of Pitt students as a mentor. I am sure that these students would appreciate learning from your experiences as you step forward into the next phase of your life. Also stay in touch with each other. All of you, and everyone at Pitt this year, shares a special bond because of this crisis. The pandemic is causing a lot of pain and tragedy, but we will overcome it. Nonetheless, it will change us—and we must all work to ensure that the positive changes in ourselves and our institutions outweigh the negatives. I am confident that you—the graduate and professional students of the Pitt Class of 2020—have the knowledge and spirit needed to help the world emerge from this moment as a changed and better place.