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Class of 1970 alumni offer words of wisdom to 2020 graduates

Events around the world are being canceled due to the COVID19 public health crisis, and unfortunately the University of Kentucky Class of 2020 will be unable to walk across the stage at Rupp Arena this weekend. This is a familiar story to UK’s Class of 1970 whose graduation was also cancelled due to safety concerns surrounding anti-war protests. student protests in 1970

Brenda Gosney, a 1970 graduate of the physical therapy program, recalls feeling disappointed when she found out her graduation was canceled. “Obviously I was sad; you work really hard those four years,” she said. “It’s exciting to demonstrate that you have finished college successfully.”

Sue Nalepa, another member of the Physical Therapy Class of 1970, was a bit down when she heard the news, but also realized it was necessary to keep moving forward. “At the time it was hard, but you learn quickly that while those memories are important, there are other things to focus on,” she said.

Like UK is doing for the class of 2020, the class of 1970 attended a makeup graduation in August to commemorate their graduates. Many students decided to come back for this graduation to celebrate the collective achievements of their class.

“Even though you don’t have the traditional memory of graduation, you will always have the memories you made throughout college. The loss of graduation does not change the wonderful times had during your college experience,” Gosney said.

Whether you walk or not does not change your hard work or achievements,” Nalepa said. “When push comes to shove, you earned your diploma and that’s all that matters.”   

Although the May 2020 graduation is postponed, graduating seniors can rest easy knowing UK’s campus community recognizes their incredible achievements and deeply understands the different circumstances they face.

Photo courtesy of UK Libraries archive