Arnold named commencement speaker for CWC
May 6, 2020 by Laura Phagan
Amidst a pandemic, social distancing and self isolation “community” has been more important than ever. Central Wyoming College has been a community for many of its students and to commencement speaker Abigail Arnold. Her speech for the 2020 virtual commencement will reflect what it’s like to be a part of the Rustler family.
Arnold applied for the opportunity to be this year’s commencement speaker and was chosen by a committee of faculty, staff and students for the honor of presenting the keynote address.
“I chose to apply to be the commencement speaker because CWC has done so much for me and I wanted people to know how great of a school it is and how wonderful the people are,” Arnold said.
This year the committee had six applicants and three finalists. Each finalist presented their speeches through Zoom because of the timing of COVID-19 and the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for self-isolation and social distancing.
“Since the format is different this year they actually presented their entire speeches to us,” said Maygen Cassity, professor of communication and committee member.
With commencement being virtual this year the committee said the speeches needed to be shorter and were roughly around three minutes.
“All of the applicants were wonderful and had great messages for the graduating class,” Cassity said.
Narrowing down to one candidate was not an easy decision for the committee. It came down to selecting the person who could best represent the class of 2020.
“We selected Abi because we really felt like her speech represented this graduating class perfectly,” Cassity said. “She spoke to them, about CWC and about the student experience. It was very moving and we just thought she did a great job. I think what stood out to me the most is how she really captured the little things that make CWC so special for students. It made me tear up, for sure.”
I am so honored to be chosen, as CWC has been such a big influence in my life as well as the people. So to be able to fully thank and acknowledge what CWC has done for me and others is an honor. ”
With such an unprecedented event Arnold said she wants to acknowledge all of the graduates and their accomplishments. CWC like many colleges across the nation had to quickly adjust all courses to virtual learning. This experience was a mix of many emotions for faculty, staff and students.
“Given the circumstance, CWC worked the best they could to help students with adjusting to a new normal,” said Lori Ridgway, director of marketing and public relations. “The adjustment was difficult but our Rustler students powered through and have completed this semester which is a great accomplishment. This is an event for the history books, the first group of students to go through a pandemic and move to virtual learning with only a few months left of school. They should all be incredibly proud of this feat.”
With many colleges turning to a virtual commencement with a variety of ways, CWC has chosen to have the virtual graduation with some of the traditional aspects such as the opening comments from the president, the commencement speaker and the announcing of graduates. Although students won’t be able to walk across the stage they were able to take photos in their cap and gown and submit a photo for the virtual graduation video.
“Even though it is virtual all those who are graduating should still acknowledge that it is still a huge achievement that they should be proud of,” Arnold said.
Arnold is graduating with an Associate of Applied Science in Cosmetology. During her time at CWC, Arnold was a deputy recruiter, student ambassador and was in the LDSSA club.
“Thank you for all the good times and memories,” Arnold said in respect to her graduating class. “I know our time was cut short but I will never forget you guys and know you will all do great things. Congratulations guys we did it.”
In addition to the honor of speaking, Arnold was awarded $250 which she will use to fund the next step in her journey. After graduation she plans to take an 18 month leave from school to serve in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Concepción Chile. After she completes her mission Arnold will return to college to study medicine specifically focusing on dermatology. She plans to attend the University of Wyoming or Utah Valley University.