Vanderbilt Magazine

A Toast to the Class of 2020: In an extraordinary year, we celebrate an extraordinary class

photo of champagne flutes viewed from above

In the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vanderbilt made the necessary—and unprecedented—decision to postpone this year’s Commencement ceremony until May 2021. But a few weeks ago, on May 1, the university began honoring the graduating Class of 2020 in ways large and small.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente has sent several video messages to graduates and their families. The city of Nashville lit up its downtown pedestrian bridge on May 8—the date Commencement had been scheduled to take place—in Vanderbilt colors. In June graduating students will receive a care package from the university, along with their diplomas. In it they’ll find a champagne flute, a reminder of Vanderbilt’s traditional Commencement Champagne and Strawberries celebration, to which they now can look forward next May.

In the following stories, Vanderbilt Magazine raises a glass of its own to the tenacious, accomplished and always adaptable Class of 2020. Cheers to you all.


Find special video messages from the Vanderbilt community, stories about the remarkable 2020 graduates, plans about next spring’s in-person celebrations and other opportunities to connect.


The stories of this year’s 3,950 graduates are as impressive and diverse as the individuals themselves. Here we share with you just a few of them.