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Congratulating Cleary Graduates – An Unusual But No Less Special Commencement

While May typically ushers in milestone celebrations like commencement, new jobs and career opportunities, a time when students leave campus for summer adventures and work experiences, it’s safe to say that this month has not turned out as any of us anticipated! 

Cleary University sign Livingston campus

And yet, we are Cleary strong, and we persevere in the face of challenge.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life-as-we-know-it, precluding in-person graduation ceremonies and festive celebrations. But it has not stopped these momentous occasions from happening. 

First and foremost, we applaud and congratulate our 2020 graduates – 206 in total for this academic year. Our graduates are heading to a variety of careers, including 10 percent in manufacturing, 8 percent in legal fields and 7 percent to medical careers. The most popular major was business management, but we had majors ranging from analytics, technology and innovation to sports promotion and management, global leadership and health care or criminal justice management – and so many more. 

Recently, we surveyed our graduates, asking whether they want a virtual commencement or an in-person celebration, when it is safe to gather. 

The resoundingly robust reply was to wait until we can gather, and so our goal is to plan for a commencement during homecoming week.  

Whether we can make good on this plan or have to push back a little later in the fall to ensure health and wellness for all, we are committed to giving a memorable ceremony for our 2020 graduates to mark the hard work and perseverance they poured into their years at Cleary

They deserve recognition. They deserve acclaim. And we want to celebrate them, whenever and however we can. 

Universities and colleges around the world are facing similar challenges at this time. We are not alone in missing one another, and in lamenting the loss of long-awaited milestones like commencement. 

This year marks an even bigger milestone, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in America. We were planning to honor this centennial at commencement, with five rows of graduates wearing white gowns with rosettes in memory of the suffragists. Cleary has a legacy of women, and it’s important to honor our roots, to understand where we are today.  

In 1883, our first students were women. Cleary began as a place to train women in business. Today, our leadership team is predominantly female. 

On our weekly Zoom calls, we spend time on Cleary history and trivia; recently, Patrick Cleary, the grandson of our founder, joined the call. He presented artifacts and memories that reminded us of our deep, rich and vast history of blazing a trail for women, and for people who sought opportunity and possibility. 

We are living through an unprecedented time. Looking back at our illustrious and long history helps create a sense of permanence and longevity. When we review Cleary’s legacy, we realize how rooted we are in Michigan, how long our view is and should be – which makes it easy to realize that this, too, shall pass, and we will once again celebrate the innovation of Cleary in memorable and monumental ways. 

There is a lot of impermanence in our lives right now, but the culture of Cleary University creates a sense of belonging, a sense of continuity, a sense of possibility.  

These days and weeks unleash a variety of emotions, and in the end we hope we come back to reassurance, to optimism, to innovation and to enthusiasm – for the richness of our culture, the depth of our connections, and the legacy a Cleary education brings to us all.