Goodbye from the class of 2020

Whether it be high school or college, senior year is always an exciting time in a student’s life. It’s the end of an important chapter in their lives. Unfortunately, Maryville College’s class of 2020 had an abrupt end to their senior year due to a pandemic that quickly swept across the world.

As classes moved online, these seniors were unable to experience the final days as Scots like the classes before them had. However, many shared their stories of their time at Maryville College and gave parting advice for all Scots.

Miracle Walls, a biology major with a chemistry minor, was an ALANA Cultural Diversity Award Scholar and a Scot Science Scholar. She spent her four years at Maryville College doing various activities outside of the classroom. She was an active member in multiple organizations and held leadership positions in many of them.

Carson Clark, Maria Vanegas, Amanda Matthews, Miracle Walls, Amy Turpin, Christy Smith, Sawyer Cradit, and Chase Chastain during 2019 Convocation.

Photo courtesy of Maria Vanegas.

Walls was a senior intern in the Maryville College Bonner Scholars program, and through it she volunteered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Blount Memorial Hospital, and coached for an American Youth Soccer Organization team. She was an active member of Maryville College’s Latino Student Alliance and was co-president her final year. Walls learned many lessons during her time as a Scot.

This is her best piece of advice: “Plans change, and it’s okay. Make sure to take time for yourself and do different things besides school, do what you want to do,” Walls said.  She believes college is the time to figure out who one is as an individual, away from any influences of their roots, and that is something great. Walls cherishes the time she had at Maryville College, and she is glad that she had many opportunities to make an impact.

Natalie Tankersley, a religion major with a history minor, is thankful to faculty and staff at Maryville College for the relationships she has formed throughout her four years. When looking at graduate schools, she looked for similar structures that would also provide her with meaningful relationships like Maryville College had.

Natalie Tankersley standing in front of the Supreme Court fighting for the rights of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Tankersley.

Tankersley was co-founder and vice president of the Define American chapter on campus, and this was because of the passion she found for immigrant rights through her relationships. An active ally to this community, Tankersley hopes to become an immigration lawyer in the future to fight for social justice.

Similar to Tankersley, Shoshana Overstreet, an English literature major, is very thankful for her relationship she has formed with her advisor, Lynn Coning.

Shoshana Overstreet working with the Career Center on professional development for her future career.

Photo courtesy of the Career Center.

“I’ll go into her office and just talk to her about random things,” Overstreet said. Overstreet advises Scots to treasure their time on campus as much as they can, because they don’t know what could happen. She would also like to thank all the faculty who have gone above and beyond for their students during this difficult time.

“In college, what you put into it, can be what you take away,” said Maria Isabel Vanegas, a political science major with an international studies minor. She stated that Maryville College helped her learn how to be involved with her community and how to be a leader with a positive impact. Vanegas was part of the Covenant Keepers Committee, co-president of Latino Student Alliance, and a resident assistant for three years. She thanks everyone on campus for giving her the opportunities to grow not just as a student but also as an individual.

Brinley Knowles, a history and writing communications double major, was very involved during her time at Maryville College. She was editor-in-chief of “Impressions,” the literary magazine of campus, for two years.

Sawyer Cradit, Brinley Knowles, Chase Chastain, and Maria Vengas at the Bicentennial Homecoming Celebrations.

Photo courtesy of Sabrina Schulte.

She helped organize the publication of the magazine, and the “Impressions” 2020 magazine is now on their website to view in PDF form. Knowles is also the lead academic mentor at Cooper Success and is one of the few essential student workers at Maryville College during the online classes. She still has her office hours throughout the week to help students who are struggling in various areas.

When the announcement came out that the rest of her final semester would be at home, Knowles was very heartbroken. She found it very difficult to move out and say goodbye to her time at Maryville College.

After the decision was made to hold Commencement in December, Knowles was happy that she would still get to walk that stage, but very disappointed in the fact that it would take place in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre instead of the usual Anderson Lawn.

“I don’t want to invite my family to travel to a different state during the holiday season just to watch me on a TV,” Knowles said in reference to the limited number of tickets given to each graduate. She hopes that closer to Dec.19, administration will consider moving the ceremony back to its original spot on Anderson Lawn so more families can attend.

Rachel Strickland, a biology major with a psychology minor, was part of the MC Equestrian Team during her time at Maryville College and served as captain for the 2019-2020 season. She claims her communication skills and multi-tasking capabilities are what she will take away from being a student. While she was disappointed at the way the academic year ended, she understands the college has to take proper steps to protect its students.

Rachel Strickland competing during the MC Equestrian team 2019-2020 season.

Photo courtesy of Izzy Davis.

As a first-generation college student, she is ecstatic that she will get the opportunity to walk across the stage. Join her and all of the other 2020 graduates on Dec. 19 to celebrate their accomplishments. According to a memorandum from Dr. Tom Bogart, the event will also be live-streamed for those unable to physically attend.

One thought on “Goodbye from the class of 2020

  • April 26, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    We enjoyed your photo and comments about your school year end.
    We are sorry it not be the grand celebration but you will have more school to reach your goal.
    You will be a wonderful physical therapist and be able to afford to do the things you most enjoy with your life. We are very proud of you. Continue on your path as a wonderful young lady. Let us know what schools you may be considering to move ahead.
    Love, John & Reggie


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