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To the UCF Class of 2020

Happy Graduation Day!

Derek Warden

I’ve been thinking about writing something to the Class of 2020 for weeks, and I never knew what to write. It’s taken me until our graduation day to finally figure out a gaggle of words to write.

As the Class of 2020 has their names read on video today in the least traditional graduation ceremony in the history of graduation ceremonies, it still doesn’t feel like we are graduating. I don’t know if it ever will. Regardless of the special events and different methods or the postponement of the traditional ceremony, it still won’t feel the same. And that sucks.

We will never experience the traditional experience that every class before us got and it’s okay to be unhappy about that. I think the most difficult part about this whole experience is that we have nobody to express our anger towards. There’s no one person responsible for this. We have nobody to point the finger at, so we have all of this bottled up anger that we cannot rightfully place upon anyone.

I spent four years at UCF, and it felt like four months. When people told me that time flies in college, they were not lying. Nonetheless, it was the greatest four years of my life and I would not trade it for anything. UCF, like many universities, is a special place, but UCF is its own special place, unlike any other place.

Graduation usually signals the end of a chapter and they celebrate with a giant ceremony to celebrate the end of this chapter. However, without this giant ceremony, it doesn’t feel like the end. This whole experience over the past six or so weeks has really taught me that this should not be seen as the end, but rather a beginning.

The one thing I love about UCF is its community. With about 70,000 students and 250,000 alumni, you are bound to find your community at UCF. The first thing I will take away from UCF is the importance of building relationships and how people shape who you are. My graduation is not just a celebration of my accomplishments, but everyone who supported me in getting here.

To all of the communities that have supported me in my college career — the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, Knightly News, Hitting the Field (UCF’s student-run sports talk show, go check them out here!), and Black & Gold Banneret — thank you.

One way that I’ve been able to build community at UCF is through sport. The second thing I will take away from UCF is how sport can truly bring people together. And in my four years, UCF Athletics has been at its peak. The mood around campus during football season is unmatched. The celebration when UCF won its AAC Championships was unbelievable. The pride I felt when UCF took on the world in the CFP was strong. The excitement I felt storming the court (once as a fan, once as media) at the basketball games was electric. The best part about it was celebrating that with Knight Nation.

The third thing I’ll take away the most from UCF is my education, obviously. But what I did not realize after coming to UCF that my degree would come with this confidence that I could take on the world. I think the reason why I feel this way though is because I have a community that is rallying behind me — a UCF community that is going to charge on with me through the rest of my life.

And I think this is why graduation does not feel like the end because it is not the end. It truly is the beginning. Even after I receive my diploma, I still have strong ambitions, I am still part of Knight Nation, and I am still part of the UCF community.

The only difference? I’m an Alumknight.