by Casey Hébert ‘21
These stories are from Bishop’s Alumni Magazine, edition No. 58 Fall 2022.
When the pandemic struck in March 2020, the student population collectively mourned for the Class of 2020, robbed of its final moments at Bishop’s, while simultaneously looking forward to a return to class in the fall, certain this sordid virus would have vanished by then. When the pandemic raged on at the end of the summer, we bargained for normalcy as we looked ahead to our regular benchmarks: the first day of classes, Gait nights, Homecoming, and more. As it became clear the pandemic was upon us for the foreseeable future, we made compromises among the events we would forego, those we would accept to see modified, and those we simply couldn’t do without.
For me, that was graduation. Call it hope or denial, but I knew my Bishop’s journey wouldn’t end until I had crossed the stage at Convocation. Luckily, Bishop’s University indulged the classes of 2020 and 2021 with postponed ceremonies, and while my wish to cross the stage was fulfilled, its meaning shifted in the year since my studies ended.
The delay gave me a new lens through which to view Convocation, not as a ceremony that would sever me from Bishop’s but rather as a transition towards a new relationship, one in which continued participation in the Bishop’s Experience becomes a deliberate choice: the relationship between alumni and their alma mater.
Wrapped up in the year’s end – saying goodbye to friends, to our campus, to Lennoxville; trying to navigate the world without the cocoon of an institution like Bishop’s – it would have been difficult to see Convocation as anything more than another goodbye. But after having been sent out into the world and choosing to return to Bishop’s, Convocation came to bear a different significance for me.
Instead of marking a shift from “student” to “unemployed,” Convocation revoked my student identity to confer me that of “alumna,” a title I now feel prepared to wear with pride and live to the fullest. When COVID ushered an unceremonious end to my academic career, I clung to the promise of Convocation with clenched fists and white knuckles. But a year later, after having spent time in the Advancement Office learning about what it means to be a Bishop’s graduate, I could not be more thankful for our Convocation’s delay.
I am grateful that Bishop’s made this event possible, and grateful still for its late arrival. From this vantage point, I was able to enjoy Convocation for what it truly is – a celebration of academic success, a transition into a new phase in life, and an opportunity to reconnect with those who make our Bishop’s experiences so memorable. Our relationship with Bishop’s doesn’t end with graduation, or even with Convocation; we stay connected to Bishop’s forevermore as alumni.
Click here to read the full Alumni Magazine from Fall 2022.