Home Opinion A Message to the Class of 2020 From the Faculty

A Message to the Class of 2020 From the Faculty


Written by Devon Mitchell

To Roanoke’s Class of 2020, as you cross the finish line of your college career and enter into the crazy unknown which has become a new normal for the world, know that the people who have been with you since the beginning wish you the absolute best on your journey. You will find that this article includes warm wishes and congratulations from the professors with whom you have spent countless hours learning, and connecting. I am merely the individual who gets to read over their heartfelt responses and compact them into one 800 word article. The best way to describe what you are reading was said by Dr. Liz Ackley of the Health and Exercise Sciences program (HEXS). “Consider this note a celebratory embrace for your accomplishments and contributions to the Roanoke College community,” she said. 


You have had an outstanding four years at Roanoke College and have left an eternal footprint on the campus. Along with everyone else in the Roanoke College community, your professors want to take a moment to commemorate all the hard work and accomplishments you have achieved.


Class time really made an impression on your professors. Dr. Jennifer Jackl of the Communication Studies department remembers her fall Senior Seminar fondly and the lively discussion that came out of it. She remembers one conversation in particular:

“The class was discussing existing literature related to binge-drinking… I won’t bring up all the details of those quasi-academic discussions…but suffice it to say, we all learned a lot about each other that afternoon, particularly the drinking habits (or lack thereof) and preferences in the room. Especially important was that some *cough—Adam—cough* learned that ‘dark wine’ is not a thing!”


Some professors, such as Dr. Melanie Trexler of the Religion department fondly remembers the attributes the Senior class possesses which makes saying goodbye so tough. Dr. Trexler said,

“Mostly, I stand in awe of them. I marvel at their resilience, their grit, and their love for each other. I will deeply miss their vivaciousness for life and the love they have for each other.” 


While the Class of 2020 as a whole was outstanding in the eyes of the professors, some wanted to highlight a few of their students with whom they had the opportunity to cultivate a lasting relationship. Dr. Joshua Rubongoya, a professor in the Department of Public Affairs and International Relations program remembers Gaston Ocampo for his active role in the Roanoke community as a student and a leader. He said, “Mr. Ocampo leaves a heavy and vivid footprint on the campus of Roanoke College.” 


Dr. Darcey Powell of the Psychology department wished to highlight Riker Lawrence and Rachel Harmon and their abilities to adapt in difficult situations as well as their research for the Psychology department. 


Dr. Ackley highlighted the extraordinary accomplishments of the seniors in HEXS – 

“You ran to new, challenging opportunities while we held our proverbial breath through the first iterations of six brand new or highly altered courses. You showed us incredible grace and enthusiasm through these transitions… you are extraordinary.”


For most professors, they wanted to impart their wisdom upon the seniors one last time and give them some advice to help them through this difficult moment in their college career. Dr. Mary Camac of the Psychology department recognized that bad things always tend to be more memorable but end up being happy in the end. She recalled the following experience that serves as an example: – 

“A friend’s wedding where the mother-of-the-groom’s zipper broke on the wrong-sized dress she was wearing (1980). Let’s face it: bad things are more memorable!  But they also provide the chance to show courage and a sense of humor, which will inspire fond memories for years to come.” 


Dr. Powell also said that these moments, although they are somber now will become life lasting stories to be shared in the future. She said,  

“I am confident that these moments – both the laughter-inducing, heart-wrenching, and everything in between – will be reflected upon and shared with others as they age.”


Dr. Trexler wanted to share a quote with the senior class from the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.

“The point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”


She hopes the graduates realize the questions in life which drive them.


In all of the professors’ responses there was a common theme- a sense of gratitude towards the Class of 2020, for not only putting their best foot forward and taking on any challenges they were faced with, but also for allowing their professors to grow with them. “May your futures be bright, your paths be unique and full of interesting twists and turns. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and grow in wisdom with you,” said Jackl.


Professor Sharon Gibbs of Business Administration and Economics added to Jackl’s wishes. 

“Be strong, be safe, and look to the opportunities you have before you! We are proud of you and your accomplishments and wish you the best! Good luck and best wishes! Please keep in touch; we love to hear from you.”


Congratulations Class of 2020, from all of us here at the Brackety-Ack. We can’t wait to see where you go!


If you would like to see the full response from the professors, check out the individual responses further in the Opinion tab of the website.