'Celebrating in an unexpected way': Williams Class of 2020 sent off with virtual ceremony

Artwork used in Williams College's Congratulations to the Class of 2020 video, created by Williams senior Julia Choi.

WILLIAMSTOWN — It might have not have been the celebration expected by the Class of 2020, but the Williams College honored graduating students with a flurry of tribute videos on Sunday, as part of the school's virtual graduation.

The videos featured College President Maud S. Mandel, a virtual yearbook and a congratulations from the Williams Alumni Community.

"It is a momentous occasion, even though we are celebrating in an unexpected way," said Dr. Caroline Messmer Schlocker, in the "Once an Eph, Always an Eph" video.

Messmer Schlocker, who graduated in 2002, is an otolaryngologist currently station on the USNS Mercy as part of the California's COVID-19 response.

"When things seem overwhelming it can helpful to be part of something larger than yourselves — well, you are," Messmer Schlocker added. "You are the newest members of the Williams Alumni Community, congratulations."

"I hope wherever this message finds you, you are surrounded by loved ones as you celebrate this important milestone in your educational pathway," Mandel said. "I really wish we were together ... decked out in our robes ready to celebrate. This celebration finds us at a difficult time in our country's history, the global history and the history of Williams College ... I hope as you take stock of all you done, you can feel proud of yourself in this moment.

"Please know I am thinking of you, that we here at Williams are thinking of you and that we can't wait to see what you do next in this world, given all you have accomplished thus far."

A time lapse of the 2020 class photo can be found farther down Williams' graduation webpage, along with "Purple Valley Memories," featuring messages from professors. The digital celebration also includes the music department's senior recital and a senior athlete celebration.

"We are really thrilled for you and glad to be able to celebrate this accomplishment with you, all together — even in this remote context," Mandel said. "We do, of course, look forward to a moment where we can all celebrate here at Williams and I am sure that will come. "

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.