Marketing Faculty Perspective on Fall 2020 Semester

Marketing Faculty have had the tough task during the Fall 2020 semester of creating engaging content and ensuring the success of their students. The challenges they face go beyond just presenting quality information in their classes. They also have to consider the best format for connecting with their students and continuing to motivate students to perform well despite many obstacles.

We surveyed a few faculty members to get their perspective on what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, how they’ve adjusted their teaching methods, and how students can succeed in today’s job market.


What are some of the biggest obstacles you have been faced with in teaching this semester? 


Student Interaction:

“The biggest change has been adjusting to an online environment. I teach marketing research and marketing analytics courses. My courses do not have a live component. Teaching technical material without the benefit of in-class interaction is very challenging.”

“It is one thing to know that most of human communication is non-verbal. It is another thing to experience firsthand an audience wearing masks preventing you from seeing smiles, frowns, and more.”

“Feeling concerned about the student experience, with giving asynchronous lectures, there isn’t any immediate feedback.”

“Keeping students motivated. It was always a challenge pre-COVID. However, the pandemic has made it more difficult because the students are getting ‘pandemic fatigue’.”

“Not being able to check in on students regularly. I teach in person, but only 30% of the class shows up (even less now). I’m worried some of the people who aren’t showing up to class are being left behind.”

“When I teach, I like to interact with the students. I learn quite a bit from the students (usually). Zoom and social distancing in the classroom have kept us all safe, but have reduced my chances to spontaneously interact with students.”

Developing New Material:

“Developing new materials such as video. Adjusting assignments, tests, and projects. Dramatically reduced engagement from students. Some never showed up or only as a black box and when called on, never responded.”

“I felt much better prepared this semester because the Spring 2020 semester provided ample opportunity to work through the technical challenges associated with online teaching. The summer was an opportunity to organize content. The students have been fantastic to work with.”

Communication & Meetings:

“I had to offer multiple teaching modes and it became difficult to facilitate group discussions as students were attending the class through different modes.”

“Biggest impact is on PhD teaching. Miss quick meetings – everything is an hour long zoom. Also miss out of random run ins that lead to new ideas and directions.”

“Organizing an event with outside business people.”


What have been some of the biggest adjustments you have had to make this year to ensure your students still receive a high level of instruction? 


Course Structure:

“Updated curriculum to allow for more self-paced assignments so students could integrate into their unpredictable schedule and given space to manage the many disruptions they are experiencing i.e. personal, and family health and economic concerns.”

“I have switched exams to an open book and open note format.”

“I have added more frequent small assessments to help students stay caught up on the content. Reduced the number of group projects, to adjust for the break at end, where group work may be more contentious.”


“I tried to make the class as flexible as possible since all the students had their own challenges of dealing with COVID-19. So, I invested an extra amount of time and effort to respond to students’ requests on an individual basis.”

“Expanded virtual office hours to provide additional coaching time for individuals requiring extra help. Made use of the virtual break-out feature in Zoom to enhance the discussion.”

I have increased the number of touch points with students: announcements, emails, Zoom office hours, and a discussion board organized by topic.”

Virtual Lectures:

“In order to make the best quality videos I can, I invested in lights, a green screen, a microphone, and taught myself Final Cut Pro.” 

“I have given more class time to breakout rooms than I usually do. I try to minimize the amount of time that students listen to prerecorded asynchronous lectures.”

“Special recordings for at-home students, altered assignments for students who can’t present, flexible deadlines, altered participation grade schedule so students do not need to be in class.”

“None. I can deliver the same experience online as in class.”


In what ways has COVID-19 influenced your overall approach to teaching? 



“Perhaps now more than ever, we need to focus on mindfulness/positivity/and creating positive habits in our lives. I can’t tell you how many students have responded positively to a weekly habit assignment I have them do where they have to state, “I will [HABIT], on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].” I have students eating healthier, exercising more, meditating, journaling, going for walks, and more. While the assignment may not have a direct correlation with marketing, I tell students if you can’t influence yourself what hope do you have of influencing others? Plus, the positive outcomes of this assignment are far and away more positive than anything else I’ve ever assigned to students.”

“Made me understand and appreciate the value of being present for the students.”

I am much more sensitive to student challenges due to poor Internet speeds, student illness, need to take care of siblings or parents etc. Also, the use of student case groups has become a very important part of the course. Case groups help reduce feelings of social isolation.”


“It makes me put myself in the student’s shoes. I think it would be harder to keep track of all the e-mails, announcements and schedules. Going to class would help compartmentalize the classes and content more. I try to be really organized with the content, so things are not confusing. My ICON site is chronological, generally it is more topical by resource.”

“I have given more tests to make sure that students are keeping up with the reading and actually thinking about material as it is presented.”

“Students are now used to remote group work. So, easier to do group cases in online setting.”

“I have made all the teaching materials online, which is probably the biggest change I made in my teaching.”  

General Changes:

“More communication with facilitators and students.”

“It’s actually made me a more organized instructor.”

“It has made me a lot more flexible and understanding.”


Despite the challenges with teaching virtually, what are some positive outcomes you have observed so far this semester? 


Connecting With Students:

“Get to have students from across Iowa in the same class (combined QC and DSM class)”

“I ended very connected with a few students who were very impacted by situation.” 

“As an introvert, I love teaching virtually. I do miss interacting with the students in person, but I have Zoom one-on-ones with the students which has worked out okay.”

“I got to know the students who came to class very, very well.” 

Online Effectiveness:

“Some students like the online format. Lectures are shorter. The amount of help outside class is more extensive than previously.”

“My guest speaker recorded his presentation and made it available to multiple sessions, so he only had to present once. Also, the online exam worked out pretty nicely.” 

“Attendance to Zoom classes is very high.” 

“Learned some new technology, I didn’t get COVID-19. That is about all. Not of fan of this mode of instruction for the large class I teach.” 


What marketing trends have you noticed emerging recently in response to COVID-19? 


Virtual Advantage:

“More acceptable of remote work and meetings. Touchless everything. Software continues to improve dramatically. Video meetings (e.g. Zoom) were clunky at first, but continues to improve. These trends will influence how companies make real estate decisions and will also influence where workers live and design their homes.”

“The change to online has accelerated while some traditional retailers are winning with online ordering and quick pick up/delivery.”

“I will continue to use online aspects of teaching, like online exams and quiz, after the pandemic is over. I think the online aspects of teaching will not go away, if not take over the offline class.” 

Consumer Preferences:

“COVID 19 has accelerated trends in how products and services are purchased and consumed across the spectrum of Health, Food, Entertainment. For me, the biggest surprise has been how resilient companies and people have been. What I look forward to is to see which trends will slow or accelerate post-COVID.” 

“Changes in lifestyle due to COVID are making big changes in consumption. For example, delivery of grocery products and restaurant meals is much more prevalent. There is a lot more online buying in general. Social media and online communication (Zoom) are more important. All this has implications for the marketing distribution system and for how marketers communicate with consumers. Whether these changes will be permanent (after COVID vaccines are widely available) is unclear.”

“Online shopping of all kinds becoming more pervasive. Demand for home goods and electronics are high, plus grocery and package liquor. On the apparel and equipment front, no event wear or professional wear being bought. Athletic apparel, cosmetics, and personal fitness athletic equipment on the rise. General inflation in conveniently delivered and picked up goods.” 


“Companies have been SLOW to change their advertising – specifically, portraying people with masks and practicing social distancing. The marketing message and media has tremendous influence on the public’s behavior. Advertisers haven’t caught on to this – which can impact how people become more accepting of the ‘new norm’.”


What do you think are the most important skills or traits for a new grad to demonstrate in order to succeed in the changing Marketing environment? 


Empathy & Making Connections:

“Students who have better social connections (supportive friends and family) will do better. Also, students who are self-starters and who are better organized will also do better. Still, the COVID environment is challenging for everyone — faculty as well as students.” 

“Empathy for customers as they navigate this changed world”

“Empathy, resiliency, business acumen, qualitative, and quantitative research skills.” 

Commitment to Learning:

“If you are willing to put in the work, a growth mindset, and a commitment to life-long learning, you will succeed!”

“Being motivated to learn and able to organize his/her schedule are more important than ever as instructors will continue to adopt the online aspects of teaching. While efficient, the drawback of online teaching is that it limits the instructor’s ability to check the student’s progress. Students are left in charge of keeping track of assignment dues, studying for the exam, etc. more than before.”

“Flexibility and problem solving skills.”

Online Professionalism:

“Companies are going to continue working virtually, even after COVID is resolved. This will require students to learn self-discipline and self-motivation if they want to succeed in the new corporate environment.”

“Learn how to participate and work effectively online.”

“Online communication and shopping knowledge/skill sets.”

“Able to work in teams online. Able to communicate professionally on Zoom.” 

Fall 2020 Semester – Student Perspective

If one thing is certain, it’s that the Fall 2020 semester has been full of uncertainty. Yet, students have shown their resilience time and time again this semester by learning to adapt to the changing environment. While it may not be exactly the semester that students were hoping for, they continue to overcome the challenges.

We surveyed students to get their perspective on struggles they’re facing, how they’ve adjusted to the changes, and resources they use to help them succeed during the Fall 2020 semester.


Negative Feelings Towards Hybrid Learning

Out of 71 students surveyed, 42 reported that they are taking a majority of their classes virtually. Almost 60% of students said that this semester falls below their expectations. The hybrid-learning format has proven to be a huge challenge for students to overcome.

Some students described their feelings towards the Fall 2020 semester so far as, “stressful and tedious”, “difficult and frustrating”, and “underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time”. One student went on to say, “I am performing the best I can and utilizing all the resources at my disposal, however I benefit from in person discussions and lectures.”

It’s apparent that the nontraditional semester has instilled feelings of doubt and anxiety for many students. While students seem to fully grasp the circumstances, it has proven difficult for many to remain motivated. The increasing reliance on meeting virtually and lack of in-person activities leaves some students feeling mentally drained and unmotivated.

“I feel very isolated. I have some in person classes but the worst part of it all is the inability to be involved in any student orgs in person. My college experience is not the same, I miss my friends, and even though some things are still offered over Zoom I really don’t want to get on another Zoom call willingly after staring at a screen all day for class.”

Among difficulties that students have encountered during the Fall 2020 semester, Zoom meeting fatigue was the main obstacle reported.

Generally, students echoed a similar sentiment that they perform better when receiving instruction in-person over a virtual format. In particular, one student’s comments embodied this sentiment saying, “While professors are much better at dealing with the online format then last year, I am learning MUCH less online than I learn in my in-person classes.” A commonality among students who prefer in-person instruction is the ability to connect with professors and peers.

“It’s harder to make friends in classes because we’re not in person, and group projects are not in person usually either. Some of my good friends I’ve met through group projects, and I miss our times being in a study room goofing off. Now everything is just about the actual coursework, which is important, but there is no longer anything fun involved because being virtual just doesn’t give off the same vibe.”

For students who find that interacting with others gives them energy, this semester has been especially difficult. When asked about major differences in their educational experience this semester, one student responded, “the lack of connection and that resulting in me feeling like I have no motivation.” With less frequent opportunities to engage with others while walking to classes or studying in the Bizhub, many students miss the daily interactions they were used to. Another student simply stated, “I just miss my friends and talking with people.”

Additionally, students have increasingly had to deal with mental health challenges during this semester. One student reflected on their challenges with ADHD and how that has impacted their learning experience saying, “I have ADHD and it [has been] extremely, extremely hard for me to focus not in a classroom environment.”

The increased dependency on completing courses virtually has taken a heavy toll on students’ ability to focus and learn. Another student reporting feeling that, “much of this semester has felt overwhelming. The course load in online classes has almost been heavier than that of in-person classes, taking into account the potential technical difficulties and increased need for proper communication.”

It’s clear that the majority of students have felt that their academic success has suffered this semester. Between the tension and uncertainty of our current social climate and students’ difficulties with adjusting to a primarily virtual college experience, the majority of students expressed concerns about their ability to perform their best this semester. However, Tippie students do not give up when it comes to achieving their goals.


Finding the Positive

While the Fall 2020 semester has presented many challenges to overcome, students have managed to find positives in the situation. Among the positive outcomes students reported experiencing, having a more flexible schedule was one of the top responses.

One student described overcoming the challenges this semester saying, “Although the initial learning curve was difficult, I feel into a great rhythm and enjoy having online classes. It allows me to watch lectures and do assignments on my own time between engagements and hectic scheduling of events/extracurricular and jobs.”

Similarly, another student remarked that, “I learn a lot better when I can do the work on my own and seem to excel in this kind of education environment.” While virtual learning may not be effective for all students, this semester has taught many of them how to thrive in an online environment. One student reflected on the impacts they’ve experienced in engaging with content virtually saying, “This semester online showed me how effective recorded lectures are, and how they can be utilized more in our classes in the future.”

Whether we like it or not, working virtually is quickly becoming a new norm. Students’ ability to adapt to this environment will provide a major advantage when transitioning into the workforce. One student provided some recommendations for becoming more successful in the online format, saying,

“Turn video on as much as possible during Zoom meetings! I’ve learned that doing classes online can get overwhelming, and it’s easy to forget to do things. To combat this, I’ve been using a digital calendar that I can access 24/hours a day and edit/cross things off of my list. Game changer. Finding ways to interact with others and making sure you take care of yourself are super important.”

As many students discovered, forming connections has become much more difficult this semester. One student shared how they combated this lack of in-person communication saying, “Group meetings over Zoom are super effective – meeting times are easier to find. I’ve gotten to know my peers so much better this semester in breakout rooms.”

Many students also learned to take initiative in reaching out when they need help. Whether attending Zoom office hours, emailing instructors, seeking out assistance from tutors, or talking with peers, students have demonstrated their resilience and resourcefulness when it comes to succeeding in their coursework.


Resources Students Have Found Most Beneficial

Despite the challenges presented in the Fall 2020 semester, students managed to find ways to improve their learning experience. Check out some of the resources and strategies that students recommend to stay engaged and maximize learning outcomes!

Meeting with classmates:

  • Talking to other peers to help me learn when possible
  • Meeting with groups via Zoom to understand coursework
  • Using the share-screen feature in Zoom

Instructors providing assistance:

  • Professors sending out reminders before due dates
  • Empathy and understanding from my instructors
  • Seeking help – emailing instructors, attending office hours, individual meetings with professors 

Staying organized:

  • Getting up early to get things done
  • Structure the week out at the beginning of the week to know when all your assignments are due
  • Using a planner has been really helpful for me
  • Making a to-do list and schedule every day and sticking to it

Learning Styles:

  • Maximizing use of recorded lectures – Pre-recorded lectures help me better understand content because I can pause to take notes, go back if I don’t understand something and rewatch lectures and supplementary videos before exams as a review; recorded lectures were super helpful! Not only did it allow me to watch them on my own time, but also was helpful in referencing information.
  • Studying – I taught myself some new studying techniques and found some studying apps that have been helpful this semester; studying with roommates and using study videos on YouTube; Quizlet
  • TAKE NOTES!! – Detailed notes have been a godsend and help me to focus and retain information; hand write notes
  • If a class was in-person but moved to virtual instruction, still do the class material at the pre-assigned time. If it weren’t for COVID, we’d still be in classes at certain times and it helps to keep you accountable 
  • The ability to ask all questions through chat makes me feel more confident then asking questions in-person
  • External resources – Learning coaches, my advisor, library guides and resources 

Recommendations for Thanksgiving Break Activities

Thanksgiving Break is finally within reach (or maybe it has already started for you)! The week off from classes is a great opportunity to relax, reset, and rejuvenate. While the holiday break might look different this year, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the much needed time off. We asked students what activities they recommend for a safe and relaxing break.

Thanksgiving Break Recommendations 


  • Among Us
  • Scrapbooking
  • Napping
  • Christmas Decorating
  • Cooking, backing holiday treats, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, stuffing my face with food
  • I’m looking forward to going on long walks with my family again like we did in the Spring during lockdown. We like to bundle up and walk and talk for an hour or so after dinner.
  • Working on projects with my dad 


  • Netflix Christmas movies – new movies to check out include Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, and A New York Christmas Wedding.
  • Marvel and DC movies
  • My Octopus Teacher 


  • Queen’s Gambit
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Criminal Minds
  • House of Cards
  • How to Get Away with Murder 
  • Sports – Turkey Bowl football game, wrestling


  • Sell It Like Serhant is an amazing sales and real estate book!
  • The Hate U Give. I read it this summer and it correlates with some events that occurred earlier this year
  • The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. A book that changed my life and perspective 


  • I love the podcast Optimal Living Daily. They have all varying topics like finance, health, and they read off a different blog or book excerpt every day.
  • I highly recommend the “Simply Be.” podcast! It educates on topics like personal branding, business strategies, female empowerment, and spirituality. 
  • Joe Rogan Podcast

Student Highlight – Bella Volfson

Isabella Volfson standing under Tippie Arch

In a few short weeks the December 2020 graduating class will celebrate their accomplishments and join the Tippie Alumni family. For Bella Volfson, there’s extra reason to celebrate the upcoming event.

Bella was recently selected to be the Fall 2020 Tippie Commencement Speaker. With a staggering six Tippie RISE experiences completed, determination to forge her own unique path, and a passion for building relationships, Bella fully embodies the Tippie spirit.

In this interview Bella discusses how she got to where she is today and what the recognition means to her. Additionally, Bella reflects on her college experience, favorite Tippie memories, and tips on setting yourself up for success. There is no doubt that Bella will commemorate her graduating class exceptionally.


Tell me a little about yourself. Where you’re from, what brought you to Tippie. 

I’m from Davenport, Iowa. My dad actually went to Iowa, so I knew I was probably going to end up here. On my 18th birthday, it was a Saturday and there was an Admitted Students Day at Tippie, so I thought I might as well go. I went by myself, my parents didn’t come with me, and Ken Brown noticed that I was by myself. He approached me and asked me who I was and what my story was. After talking to him for 10 minutes, I knew that this is where I needed to be. I was stuck between here and another school, but talking to him just made me feel really welcomed. He even followed me on Twitter immediately! That’s what ultimately brought me to Tippie, that interaction with Ken, and I’ve maintained that relationship with him over the last 5 years. 


What inspired you to pursue a degree in Marketing? 

I chose marketing because I’m really outgoing, so I knew I wanted to be in a field that would allow me to work with other people and build relationships with them. I’m also very creative, so I wanted to be able to use my creative side within my work. I felt like other majors were more analytical or didn’t allow the creative use as much. Really, I chose marketing because I thought I could make my own kind of degree with it. For example, I took an Intro to Photography class and now I own my own photography business. The marketing courses offered and the electives I could take really allowed me to make my own path and do what I wanted. 


How did you get your start with photography to then go and start your own business?  

I was 16 when I first started, but that was very amateur and I didn’t know very much about it. Taking that class my first semester at Iowa really allowed me to expand and grow in that. Then I got a job with Marketing & Design at the IMU as a photographer, so I’ve been able to shoot things like the Bad Suns Homecoming ConcertI met the actors from The Office and I did shoots with them. Now I also work at Tippie as a Social Media Intern, so I do a lot of photography around Tippie for their social media platforms.  


What have been some of your favorite classes that you’ve taken? 

At Tippie, specifically, any class with Nancy Abram.  Doesn’t matter the content. I think that she’s such an amazing person. She’s very raw, keeps it very real, and I think that’s really necessary when you’re about to enter the real world. She’s been a great mentor over the years. I also really liked Consumer Behavior with Chelsea Galoniand being part of Marketing Institute also really, really helped me out.  


What do you attribute your success at Tippie to? Are there any specific initiatives you took to set yourself apart? 

I did 6 different Tippie RISE experiences over the years. I think that getting involved really made a difference, inside and outside of Tippie. It allowed me to become more well-rounded and connect with different people from in the business school and outside the business school. 

I took a non-traditional route where I probably emphasized more time in my extra-curriculars than in school, which is reflected in my GPA. But I think getting involved in different things allowed me to have different opportunities which was really, really helpful.  


Out of all your Tippie RISE experiences, is there one that really stands out as your favorite? 

Studying abroad in Russia really changed my life. My dad is from Russia and I went to Moscow, which is where he’s from, and I really just wanted to see where he grew up. By taking that semester and challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone, it allowed me to return and join different student organizations like Multicultural Business Student Association. It helped me realize what I needed to do to become more well-rounded as a businessperson.  


What have been your most memorable experiences at Tippie? 

Yesterday, I was actually thinking about when I’ve been the happiest in Tippie because obviously I haven’t been in the business building very much this semester. There’s nothing like walking through the BizHub or one of the gallerias and seeing your friends there. Stopping to talk to them on the way to class or sitting with them in Pat’s Diner, the connections and the friendships I made at Tippie are going to last a very long time. I met my best friends there, so it’s been hard this semester to not have those same experiences where you randomly stumble upon someone that you really care about. But reflecting on those memories is what helps to have such a positive experience – the community at Tippie, for sure.  


What would you say are some of the best lessons you’ve learned during your time at Tippie? 

For my commencement speech I’m actually talking about this! I have four top things that I’ve learned. 

Change is okay. It’s okay for things to not go as planned. The outcome is always going to be different from what you initially thought, but it could come out better than you were hoping in the endJust be accepting to change. 

Face the future head on. It’s coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. If you didn’t study for an exam, that’s your choice and the outcome is going to be what you put into it. Just acknowledge that the future is unstoppable, and it’s just about how let it impact you and how you’re going to handle the challenges that are put in your way.  

Failure does not define you.failed a class my junior year. I did not think I was going to; I thought the curve was going to help me. There was no curve. That was really hard to rebound from. I thought that I was never going to amount to anything and that this grade was going to determine the rest of my college experience. But I retook it the next semester and got a D. I moved to New York and got an internship in New York City right after. I think people put so much emphasis on failure in college and they don’t think they’re good enough or not going to achieve anything, but that’s just not the case. It’s how you respond to that failure. 

You determine your own path. There’s no set path that everyone has to take. As I said I’m a marketing major, but I took a photography class, I’m in an anthropology class right now and graphic design, and I did Alternative Spring Break. You don’t have to do everything by the book. You’re allowed to do what you want and enjoy and what’s going to help you become the best version of yourself. Do what makes you happy. Ultimately, you’re the only one that’s going to be having those experiences. 


In your opinion, what are some of the “must-do’s” that other students should do or experience before graduating? 

A must do at Tippie is getting to know your advisors and get to know the people in the UPO because they are very supportive, very positive people and they will always have your back. They’re more than just someone you can go to when it comes to classes.  

At the University, have a radio show through KRUI. I got involved with KRUI my sophomore year. I worked my way up to Marketing Director one year and was the Assistant General Manager another year, but I always had a radio show. It was a great way to just let looseplay music you wanted to hear, and show your creative side. I definitely recommend it for students.  

For Iowa City in general, volunteer! I really enjoyed every time I went to the Ronald McDonald House and volunteered there. It’s really a great way to give back to families that are going through something horrible and traumatic at the time. It’s also very easy; you get to cook, you get to spend time with your friends, you get to do something enjoyable. Looking for volunteer opportunities around Iowa City to give back to the community that does so much for the University in general is a great way to get involved.  


What are you most looking forward to in the next few weeks before graduation? 

I’m looking forward to graduation itself. It’s something that I’ve been working towards for the last four and a half years. You know, you go through these classes you don’t necessarily want to take and you’re just like, “when is this going to end, when am I going to get to do what I want to do?”. Now that time is coming for me. I’m excited to sit down with family and celebrate all the accomplishments that I’ve had throughout the years. 


Reflecting on your experiences at Tippie, is there anything you wish you had done or done differently?  

I wish I would have studied more. I would have spent more time focusing on the academic side rather than extracurriculars. Those experiences did really help me grow professionally, but the classes and the lessons you have in class are invaluable. I wish I would have paid a little bit more attention to my schoolworktaken advantage of office hours, and connected with professors more. Any professor is always going to be in your corner, regardless of how well you know them or not. But going the extra mile to get to know them can really help you in your future.  


Could you share what being selected as the Tippie Commencement Speaker means to you? 

This is something that I’ve wanted since freshman year. I knew that I was good speaker, it just was a matter of presenting myself well and showing that I was capable of doing so. I thought that the commencement speaker was someone who had the highest GPA. Obviously, as I said, studying was not my forte, so that’s not the factor for me, but it shows that my hard work paid off. The involvement and the experiences that I’ve put myself through – failing a class, studying abroad, having internships – have made me a well-rounded enough person to represent the class. It’s a huge honor that I was selected. I’m speaking for however many people are graduating and that means a lot that they think I’m well encompassed enough to do the job well.  


During these unprecedented times, with COVID-19 cases rising and all classes moving online, how are you approaching the already difficult task of preparing and delivering a commencement speech? How did you decide what you wanted to share at graduation? 

I had the privilege of working with Pam Bourjaily for 2 weeks, meeting twice a week, and she gave me really good feedback. I had some other people reach out and help me with my speech, which was really nice. While I’m disappointed that I can’t deliver it in-person, it also takes some of the pressure off me because I’m able to just record it by myself.  

I wanted to talk about my experiences because I think my path and what I did during my time here at the University is really unique, but I also wanted to make it relatable to everyone else. I decided to share stories and lessons I’ve learned along the way. Even if my specific story isn’t something that someone else went through, they’re able to take away the underlying message and apply it to their own situation. I wanted to really make sure that everyone felt included and that their story was also being relayed through what I was saying, even if we hadn’t gone through the same exact things.