Thank you, all. I know you rowdy people are in ecstasy, but please be seated at this time be sure to mute the audio on your screens so we don’t compete with too much clutter noise. There’s a reason microphones aren’t installed in each and every seat of the auditorium.

Seems just yesterday I strolled our beautiful but empty grounds in early August, preparing for another academic year of learning, challenges, and laughter. The only thing missing were exhilarated seniors, proud parents, and applauding educators. Now, this place is packed, and it finally feels like the party I was looking forward to! the beautiful grounds are empty still, yearning for seniors, proud parents, and applauding educators to break the deafening silence. At least our Facebook Live numbers are spiking!

You are a uniquely industrious group, with so many making this semester’s rigorous Dean’s List earning a P on the Pass/Fail metric, I thought Shirley in accounting had botched the numbers!

[Query: Has Shirley been furloughed? If so, joke won’t work.]
[Query: If Shirley was furloughed, send jaunty tropical bouquet to her house in gratitude for service.]
[Query: Do florists still deliver to porches?]
[Query: Has Shirley lost anyone to COVID? Understated bouquet may be more politic.]

Make no mistake, you have duly earned those A’s, which stand for Accomplishment P’s, which stand for Probably Above Par.

Don’t get cocky, though. You also earned all those campus parking ticket fines, which you’ll need to square with us before we send out your diplomas.
[Hold for laughter.] [Hold for Zoom buffering.]

[Query: Did security continue issuing tickets to cars abandoned in parking lots after campus shut down? Consider waiving fees—cutting joke?]

Your bright horizons ahead look out over breathtaking peaks of great achievements and picturesque valleys of well-earned triumphs. There are horizons ahead. Many None of you will launch your own small businesses right after graduation, and some already have for those of you who did so during this spring, my condolences. When your parents tonight take you out to an extravagant celebratory dinner offer you greasy curbside takeout around a card table, binge-watching Tiger King, be sure to take note of the owner’s passion, commitment to excellence, which are the only requirements to successful entrepreneurship thoroughly disinfect all packaging. We have every confidence your future business endeavors will soon thrive just like theirs are thriving now be able to move into their abandoned strip mall spaces at a greatly- reduced rent.

Others among you are prepared for a life in the sciences, where your methods and meticulous natures will be scorned at every turn. Some will join the honored ranks of the nursing profession, or attend medical school, and we applaud your desire to help fellow humans at their most vulnerable willingness to exist in a restless, respiratory minefield without protection. For those destined to provide legal counsel for others, I point you to this inspiring quote from Justice Brandeis: “If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable” urge you to consider specializing in bankruptcy law: 1-800-BYE-DEBT is experiencing staggering call volume.

Some of you will take gap years between now and graduate school. Lucky devils! If you find your journey now begins in the unemployment line, take heart. Look to the person standing six feet in front of you. Then look to the person standing six feet behind you. One of you will likely nab the brass ring of contingent work at some point before year’s end. Let it be you!

Whatever travels to European destinations you take sourdough bread you compulsively bake and swallow to ease your mind after completing this walk, remember us. Remember your alma mater. We are always only a phone call away.

[Query: Are any offices actually answering phones?]

Thanks to the perennial prowess of our powerhouse football team, we know you’ll want to come back for Homecoming. If you get nostalgic for our powerhouse football team during its indefinite hiatus, check out past games on our Fighting Muskrats YouTube Channel.

Now: move your golden tassel from the right side of your mortarboard to the left, toss your cap high in the air and embrace your new title of college graduate! remove the pinching rubber bands around your earlobes, and toss up your surgical masks in jubilation. Be careful not to hit any room ceiling fans.

Class of 2020, we proudly salute you as you take flight. Spread those glorious wings, graduates. Overcome all obstacles to achieve more than you ever dreamed possible. Soar into the great glorious unknown of your future. Go out and show the world what a Wheeling State graduate is made of. you continue nesting. Don’t get bogged down doing nothing in your parents’ homes. Wash those piling dirty dishes. Keep your hands immaculate. Change out of unwashed pajamas. Choose to meet head-on the world you’re currently confined to. Show it what a Wheeling State graduate is made of!