St. Olaf College | News

Celebrating the Class of 2020

This week the Class of 2020 graduates from St. Olaf College. We are so grateful to this incredible cohort — and how each of them contributed to making our community on the Hill such a special place. 

The Class of 2020 dove into established passions and discovered new ones. This group of 721 seniors declared 975 majors and 347 concentrations. Many students declared concentrations to further hone their passions, and 236 Oles declared a double major. Nine brave Oles took on a triple major. 

The Class of 2020 took advantage of opportunities to learn all over the world and gain a global perspective: 529 Oles participated in an off-campus program and 210 traveled two or more times. 

The Class of 2020 challenged themselves academically and took on a robust course load as part of the St. Olaf liberal arts education. In this class, 271 students will graduate with honors, 54 of whom will graduate with Summa cum laude honors. 

As the graduating senior class completes this significant rite of passage, we eagerly wait to see where their lives will take them next. 

For some students the path is more visible at the outset. For instance, the Class of 2020 includes five seniors who were accepted into medical school as well as 24 nursing students, many of whom will begin nursing and acute care work immediately after graduation. In the midst of a public health crisis, we are deeply proud of our graduates who will join the frontlines within the healthcare field and in all other essential roles. 

Three members of the Class of 2020 were awarded Fulbright Fellowships to conduct research and teach around the world, and one was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support his doctoral work.

Whatever path our seniors decide to take after graduation, we know that they are needed. We need Oles now more than ever — individuals who hold true to their values and give their best to make the world a better place. 

Although our seniors cannot be on the Hill right now, the Hill will continue to be what it is because of its incredible students and alumni — those who came together in community to learn and grow into the people they were meant to be. Oles, the Hill will always be your home. We hope to welcome you back soon. 

We asked our senior class to share some of their favorite memories from their time on the Hill, the memories that made it feel like home. 

“One of my favorite memories from St. Olaf took place in the honor house Lincoln Inn that I lived in with nine other people and a cat named Milo. On one of the last nights that we were on campus, we did a house game night where we played Oregon Trail and Twister. This particular night, a house rule was that — in order to participate in the game — you had to be wearing a hat that one of my housemate’s mom crocheted and sent all 10 of us to give us ‘head hugs.’ Following Oregon Trail, Twister ended in a pile of limbs and laughter. In the middle of a global pandemic where the future was so uncertain, playing games and laughing until my face hurt with ladies that I have loved coming home to every night was one of the moments I will be very grateful to have had on the Hill.” — Erica Rempert ‘20, nursing major

“My best memories from St. Olaf came from the times I spent with my best friends on and off the football field. Being able to spend four years with these guys made the grind worth it in all aspects, from in the classroom to on the field. Sharing in common accomplishments we all worked so hard for gave me a bond with my teammates that made us family. These relationships and memories are things I’ll cherish forever.” — Max Dowdy ‘20, economics major with an emphasis in business management

“I will never forget how powerful of a moment the choirs create at the end of each night of Christmas Fest when we sing Beautiful Savior. It was such a privilege to be a part of the St. Olaf Choir for two years, and the mass choir all four years of college during Christmas Fest. Experiencing that brief second of silence before the audience finally gets to applaud, while the lights in Skoglund are still out, each night of Fest felt special every time and will be a memory I will cherish forever.” — Blake Northrup ‘20, economics and political science major with a concentration in international relations

“One of the reasons I attended St. Olaf was because of the study abroad opportunities. I was fortunate enough to participate in three Interims abroad. In my freshman year, I completed Intermediate Spanish II in Costa Rica. Sophomore year, I participated in the Classical Studies in Italy program. My junior year I traveled to England for the Theater in London program. Studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to learn about different cultures and different languages, make new friends, and expand my view of the world around me. Because of these experiences, I have memories that will last a lifetime.” — Katie Braman ‘20, psychology and women’s and gender studies major with concentrations in family studies and media studies

“St. Olaf is more than a place for outstanding academics, an awesome cafeteria, and world-renowned study abroad programs. It is a place where love and community foster relationships that lead to lifelong friendships. At St. Olaf, I found the people that will support me through all of the good and bad that life has to offer. Thank you St. Olaf for the opportunity to create a family. Um Yah Yah!” — Lily Beth Nelson ‘20, English major with a concentration in women’s and gender studies

We hope you can join us as we celebrate the Class of 2020! 

On Thursday, May 21, Associate Professor of Religion David Booth, who was nominated by the senior class, delivered the annual Senior Last Lecture virtually, titled “Signs of the Times.” On Sunday, May 24, St. Olaf held a 2020 Virtual Celebration, followed by a celebratory concert.

These celebrations are not intended to replace Commencement. The Class of 2020 deserves to experience an in-person Commencement Ceremony on Mellby Lawn with family and friends at the end of May or early June 2021. At that time, graduates will also have the opportunity to participate in some of St. Olaf’s most treasured traditions, such as the signing of their name in Old Main Tower and Baccalaureate. We look forward to sharing details about that ceremony once they are finalized.

More information about how you can help celebrate the senior class is available on the Class of 2020 homepage.