Class of 2020 Celebrated with Virtual Commencement


Highlights Included Keynote Address from former CEO of Girl Scouts USA, Announcement of Senior Honors and Awards and Conferral of Degrees


The College’s 237th Commencement was celebrated with a virtual ceremony that premiered on Oct. 17, yet another reminder of the pandemic that has left its mark on much of 2020.

The virtual ceremony can be accessed here.

Despite the virtual format, the elements included in the ceremony were in keeping with a traditional commencement. Among other things, there were greetings from select speakers, such as Ryan Zwier, the 2020 senior class speaker, and Steve Golding, the Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors.

Sylvia Acevedo, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA delivered the keynote address and was awarded with an honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service. Two Alumni Citations were presented to Judith Lynn Brucker ’86 and John Dimsdale III ’73. Interim President, Dr. Wayne Powell, presided over the ceremony. The new name of Harford Hall – Thomas E. Morris ’62 Hall – was also unveiled.

The highlight of the ceremony was of course the public conferral of degrees. Dr. Powell officially conferred the degrees earned and Interim Provost and Dean Michael Harvey individually presented each degree candidate.

The virtual format offered viewers who logged into a YouTube account the opportunity to virtually cheer and post support for the graduates. One such comment came in from Lauren Montenegro Littlefield ’91, who said, “Congratulations to all students! Today, I am clapping out loud for every single Psychology graduate and every student who achieved Phi Beta Kappa status. Welcome fellow alumni!”

First Honor Graduates from the Class of 2020 are: Lauren Elizabeth Frick, B.A., summa cum laude; Caitlin Anne McDaniel, B.S., summa cum laude and Jessica Lea Willey, B.S., summa cum laude.

All of the graduate awards normally announced in the ceremony were previously presented in a virtual ceremony held in May, but the commencement awards were highlighted again.   These were:

Jane Huston Goodfellow Memorial Prize – To a graduating senior, majoring in science, who has an abiding appreciation of the arts and humanities and has shown scholastic excellence. Awarded to: Despina Agnes Thomas.

The Gold Pentagon Awards - To a senior and to one alumnus, faculty or friend of the college, selected by Omicron Delta Kappa Society, in recognition of meritorious service to Washington College.  

This was awarded to: Caitlyn Marie Creasy ’20, Nicholas Ryan Gottemoller ’20 and Barbara Townsend Cromwell – Alumna of the Class of 1955 and dear friend to the College.

Sophie Kerr Prize finalists were highlighted – they are: Kailani M. Clarke, Heber Guerra-Recinos, Gabrielle Rente, Saoirse, Mary Sprague and Abby Wargo.  Mary Sprague received the Sophie Kerr Prize, in recognition of her ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor.

The Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award - To a graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has demonstrated unusual interest, enthusiasm and potential in the field of public affairs. Awarded to: Jacob Anthony Vassalotti.

Eugene B. Casey Medal - To a senior woman voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership and campus citizenship.  Awarded to: Sophia Madeline Grabiec.

Henry W.C. Catlin 1984 Medal - To a senior man voted by the faculty to be outstanding in the qualities of scholarship, character, leadership and campus citizenship.  Awarded to: Nicholas Ryan Gottemoller.

Clark-Porter Medal - To the student whose character and personal integrity, in the opinion of the faculty, have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life.  Presented by Charles B. Clark '34 in memory of Harry B. Porter Class of 1905. Awarded to: Jocelyn Ja’Daia Elmore.

George Washington Medal and Award - To the senior who shows the greatest promise of understanding and realizing in life and work the ideals of a liberal education. Awarded to: Lauren Elizabeth Frick.

The ceremony was pre-recorded, which was an intentional decision made for a few key reasons, including eliminating any potential technical issues that might have disrupted the ceremony. It was posted on Saturday 10/17 and will remain online so families, friends and others may watch it at their convenience.

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at