Belated Graduation

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Behind the scenes of the MCFA email blast, our LinkedIn content, marketing our podcast, updating our website, coordinating proposals and helping with the nitty-gritty details of conferences is our marketing coordinator, Olivia Rupkalvis. Last weekend, Olivia had the opportunity to celebrate her “in-person” 2020 graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill.  And while I’m more of a John Wooden guy myself, I’ve asked her to share with us what Roy Williams shared with her graduating class and what it was like to be back on the graduation stage a year and a half later…
Being a member of the Class of 2020 has been a wild ride. The past year and a half (or 518 days, to be exact) has been full of uncertainty and challenges, but most importantly, it has been full of growth and strength. Back in March 2020, I was in my last semester at UNC and on my spring break trip to Mexico…completely suffering from senioritis. I was ready for senior traditions, like climbing the bell tower and senior bar golf, which I had looked forward to for the past four years. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the entire world changed.
Instead of walking to class with my friends and taking senior pictures, I was stuck in my apartment finishing online courses and binge-watching every TV show and movie known to man with my roommates. It all changed so fast that I didn’t have time to process all of the things I had missed out on, or even the closure I didn’t know I needed. Classes ended, I moved out of my college apartment and quickly entered the professional world.
Looking back on the piece I wrote after graduating from UNC and starting at MCFA, the Class of 2020 has had the unique opportunity to experience perseverance and show resiliency like no class before it. I wrote, “Even though it may not seem like it at the moment, I believe this class will emerge stronger and more prepared.” A year and a half later, this could not be more true. Being back at UNC this weekend showed me how amazing my graduating class is. I caught up with old friends who are influencing the next generation as teachers, attending graduate school to change their fields of study, working in non-profits to help their communities, and so much more. I have never been so inspired going into this new future as an (official) college graduate.
Although I go back to UNC often, this weekend felt so special and different. The entire town was filled with excitement and joy for my class. We were welcomed back with open arms, and it truly has never felt so good to be home. The weekend was filled with senior traditions we finally got to experience and a graduation ceremony beyond our expectations. The Class of 2020 had the pleasure of having Coach Roy Williams as our Commencement Speaker, and if you know college basketball, you know Roy Williams.
I’ve seen Roy at games and around campus, but having him speak at our graduation was on another level. I don’t even have words to describe it. In his speech, he inspired the Class of 2020 with some of his favorite moments throughout his career (including our 2017 National Championship win), reflecting on his time at UNC and expressing his love for the university. He gave a quote from Zig Ziglar, “You can go where you want to go. Do what you want to do. Have what you want to have and be what you want to be. It may not be smooth all the time. You may have some bumps on the road, but you can do all of those things.”
I can’t think of a better quote for the Class of 2020. Despite everything we have faced, we have come so far, pushing through and creating the future we want to see. It can only get better from here, and I am so excited to see where this class goes. As Roy Williams said at graduation, “Be led by your dreams, not pushed by your problems.”
Congratulations, again, to the Class of 2020!


BJ Kraemer, President