May 10, 2020 would have marked the annual UNC Department of Computer Science Commencement ceremony, but with commencement ceremonies postponed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, spring graduates were honored through creative virtual celebrations, hosted by both the university and the department.
Honoring the Class of 2020
Fueled by a desire to create an experience for graduates that would honor their hard work and dedication, connect as a computer science community, and share in their excitement for the future, the department compiled video messages from faculty and created a virtual class yearbook for the spring graduates. The celebration recognized the conferring of more than 400 degrees, including 208 bachelors of science, 128 bachelors of arts, 56 undergraduate minors, 13 doctors of philosophy, and 11 masters of science.
The video celebration of graduates featured messages from faculty members sharing their encouragement for the Class of 2020, acknowledging their tremendous accomplishments, and looking forward to their future achievements.
Department Chair Kevin Jeffay reflected on the importance of this achievement given the current circumstances, reminding graduates, “this milestone is probably more important this year than any other year.”
“This probably isn’t what you envisioned for graduation, it’s certainly not what I envisioned, but it doesn’t make this date any less important,” Jeffay said. “Completing a computer science degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is always something to be very proud of.”
Teaching Professor Kris Jordan shared, “I’m so proud of how far you’ve come since we first started programming together…the distance you’ve come since then is just incredible. And I look forward to following you as you go out into the world and do even more great things.”
And some took the time to “formally” celebrate, including Professor Jack Snoeyink, who dressed in academic regalia to honor the momentous occasion.
With a piece of advice for graduates, Professor Montek Singh reminded students that as they move forward in their journey beyond UNC, they may be faced with difficult decisions, but challenged students to consider, “the hardest choices often end up being the most inconsequential.”
Other messages reminded students of the ways in which they’ve grown during their time at Carolina.
The Virtual Yearbook for the Class of 2020 also provided students with an opportunity to share their favorite memory during their time in the Department and to share advice for their peers.
What’s Next for Class of 2020?
In a new initiative, the department is collecting detailed data from graduates regarding their future career plans. With 54 percent of undergraduate students in the Class of 2020 completing the survey, the story of these graduates is one to celebrate. During their time at UNC, they were committed to supporting others and more specifically the UNC Computer Science community, with 44 percent working as teaching assistants or learning assistants for a computer science course during their time at Carolina. Nearly half were involved with computer science student club activities, highlighting their commitment to engagement and learning.
After graduation, the members of the Class of 2020 are headed across the United States to begin working for some of the top tech companies and study at the top CS graduate programs. From the Bay Area to Research Triangle Park and all areas in between, the Class of 2020 will make their mark on technology.
The plans for official university and department Commencement ceremonies are still to be determined. To help us celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 and to view the video dedication from faculty, please visit the UNC Computer Science Virtual Yearbook page.