EAST WILTON — Jennie Chen of East Wilton, Maine, graduated after majoring in economics and minoring in Asian studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Chen, the child of ZhongPing Chen and ChunLing Situ of East Wilton, Maine, is a 2016 graduate of Mt. Blue High School.

Bates College graduated 463 students from 37 states and 52 countries on May 31, 2020. Cumulatively, the Class of 2019 performed 80,000 hours of community service, exemplifying Bates’ commitment to community learning and civic action.

The commencement, virtual due to the pandemic, reached more than 10,000 viewers worldwide. It featured introductory remarks by President Clayton Spencer and an address by renowned multimedia artist Vanessa German, who had been the subject of a solo exhibit at the Bates Museum of Art during the academic year. Delivering her remarks in the form of a poem, she encouraged the graduating seniors to ride “a rocket ship of perseverance” into their futures.. “You know of the power that resides within you – when you are in the click and the groove of the thing that is your thing. You know what right feels like, when you are right inside of it.”

In remarks prerecorded in her hometown of Malden, Mass., senior speaker Alexandria Onuoha paid homage to her mother, a Jamaican immigrant who raised her as a single mother. The double major passed on her mother’s advice in a speech titled “Stay Strong, and Walk Like You Got Some Sense.”

“Our story as a class is not perfect, but it’s real,” Onuoha said. “For students who have been waiting for this moment to be celebrated – especially for students of color, for first-generation students, for international students – it’s more than a walk, it’s a moment of victory.We may not have been able to walk across the stage and then hug our families, but we do get to walk with a Bates degree and a holistic perspective on academics and on life. We get to walk towards the next chapter of our lives as writers of our own story.”

Though we have been delayed in sharing this news due to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please know that our pride in our graduates is as strong as ever. Congratulations to the class of 2020!

Located in Lewiston, Maine, Bates is internationally recognized as a leading liberal arts college, attracting 2,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world. Since 1855, Bates has been dedicated to educating the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. Committed to opportunity and excellence, Bates has always admitted students without regard to gender, race, religion, or national origin. Cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action, Bates prepares leaders sustained by a love of learning and zeal for responsible stewardship of the wider world.


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