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LUC The Hague and the (online) Graduation of the Class of 2020

On Friday July 10th LUC The Hague marked another milestone and challenge surmounted by hosting its first fully-fledged online graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.

The ceremony was opened by Abigale Thorley and Ethan Warren who served as the Masters of ceremony and took the audience by the hand to lead them through what was to be LUC The Hague’s first virtual graduation. Following this, Dean of Leiden University College Prof. Dr. Judi Mesman led the procession along socially distant markers through the campus. The audience was met with the class of 2020 on screen through a series of self-selected images compiled and shared with the audience.

Graduates Abigail Thorley (l) and Ethan Warren (r) who moderated LUC's online graduation

Together Apart

From an empty auditorium Judi Mesman addressed the hundreds of families and loved ones of the 164 graduates who found themselves sitting across the globe to celebrate – together apart. She stressed the art and the importance of perspective, but also an open mind for the class of 2020 who sat ready to storm the castle. Through their LUC journey the class of 2020 adopted glasses for the mind that would take students from details to big ideas and “turn mirrors into windows”.

Commencement Speaker Mitchel Esajas at the Black Archives in Amsterdam

Mitchell Esajas

Mitchell Esajas, Co-founder of the Black Archives, The New Urban Collective, Scholar and active Social Entrepreneur spoke of his experience as an outlier determined by colour in education throughout his life. His experiences pushed him to orient himself towards the  pursuit of social justice with regards to racism, exclusion, colonialism and more. From the wealth of experience and knowledge he had gained, he left students with five key takeaways: Improve every day; Get involved and take Action; Make a commitment to social and environmental justice; To determine purpose first mark one’s mission and aim; Failure is inevitable so fail forward and keep moving. His words resonated beautifully, and struck a chord of humanity across generations and continents.

Uncertainty

Following the commencement speech, Bahumi Mogwe-Jansen was awarded the Aernout van Lynden Global Citizenship Award for her concrete and direct efforts for in community engagement within and beyond LUC The Hague. Omari Palmer class representative for the class of 2020 then took to the screen where he urged his class to continue to take the discussions from LUC with them and into the communities that they enter. He implored his class to respect the diversity of experiences his cohort has had, as they continue to carry that diversity with them and walk into the new chapters of their lives. Recognizing they all had steps to go with getting more comfortable with uncertainty, his words danced along the silver lining of such uncertain times highlighting “the opportunity to make choices we may never would have considered before, uncertainty takes you places you never thought you could have gone.”

Now more than ever

Noemi Noveck was awarded the Brill Prize 2020 for the best written capstone as presented by Dr. Jaqueline Hylkema. Following this Educational Director Lieke Schreel introduced the Valedictorian for highest academic achievement, Felina Lottner. Described by academic staff as “a student of exceptional merit, she received her award humbly and followed it with a fitting speech where she addressed the optimistic visions of changing the world. “Now more than ever is the time where the skills and knowledge we have gained at LUC, both inside and outside of the classroom, crucial” with respect to global challenges. She urged her class to look beyond at the multitude of metaphorical pandemics unfolding in the world they are stepping into as graduates, from widening economic and social inequality  to a looming climate crisis. “No one can save the world alone, but we as individuals need to be aware of the role, we play in perpetuation harmful structures and social injustice while acknowledging the knowledge and opportunities gained over the past three years to create a more equal prosperous and sustainable world.” She ended her speech on a note, that such ideals would only achieved be together.

The Learning Journey

Following this the students received a message form academic staff and a closing speech from Dean of LUC Prof. Dr. Judi Mesman who gave thanks to the role that the community played. “The learning journey will continue.” She reflected on the privilege that her role as Dean has given her through the learning she continues to pursue in the “presence of so many infinitely interesting people, staff and students who can show her things she many never have truly seen or understood before”. As the ceremony came to a close to the backdrop of Piano Man, Judi Mesman left the graduates with a final word. “We are all learners until the very end regardless of diplomas and credentials. learning is a privilege and it is one to embrace for a lifetime.”

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