Joint Top Hat & Derby

To the Class of 2021, congrats and farewell

By Cait Bennett and Yaseen Mahmoud May 31, 2021

Dear 2021 graduates,

The spirit of Rensselaer is not encompassed by the campus. The innovation that is expected of RPI alumni does not spring from the Materials Research Center, or the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, nor does it come from the lecture halls of the Darrin Communications Center or the Amos Eaton building. It comes from the tireless work of staff members who continuously support our education, and from the brilliant students and professors working to improve our world. The pandemic proved that the Institute’s soul is not tied to buildings, but to the people. The unity we have as a community is the true spirit of RPI.

The 2021 graduates perfectly exemplify this campus spirit: your journey through college was a long and arduous one, especially given the pandemic. Many of you provided for your families, faced financial struggles from the economic recession, or battled severe mental illnesses, all while continuing your degrees. Remote students know better than most the struggles this pandemic entailed. In addition to the myriad of issues many graduates faced, you telecommuted from across the globe and woke up at odd hours to attend classes, meet with teammates, and attend office hours. You persevered through incredible personal hardship in the pursuit of education, and you continued to support each other—despite the adversities you faced. For this, you all deserve our respect and admiration.

The administration failed to even acknowledge the determination and dedication of remote students during this year’s commencement. We will not make the same mistake. The impact of the entire class of 2021 on our campus and our students was profound. As you move forward in life, I hope you look back on your memories in the Union fondly.

Sincerest congratulations,

Cait Bennett

156th Grand Marshal

Yaseen Mahmoud

132nd President of the Union