’A living time capsule’

A person speaking at a podium
A person speaking at a podium

During remarks to the Class of 2023, senior class president Sophie Liu reflects on the unique journey of a group of students who experienced Hopkins before, during, and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic

Remarks as delivered by Johns Hopkins University senior class president Sophie Liu at the universitywide Commencement ceremony on May 25, 2023.

Congratulations again to the Class of 2023 honorary degree recipients.

Good morning students, friends, family, faculty, staff, and trustees. I am Sophie Liu, president of the Class of 2023.

Class of 2023, we made it!

We started out with many of the traditional Blue Jay "firsts"-like the first time we stepped foot on the Beach or the first time we attended a 9 a.m. lecture. It’s just that our list of college firsts suddenly became lasts during the spring of our freshman year, with the pandemic.

In the face of this disruption, it would have been easy to sit idle and focus only on these "lasts." But we did not.

Our unique experience of "lasts" created a perfect storm for further strengthening our already strong Blue Jay community. That time forced us to go through a genuine process of transformation. And, from that, we made changes.

And with those changes came new firsts-some individual, such as changing a major or career path entirely-and some collective, like the new tradition of a time capsule.

Commencement 2023

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One of the items that will be put into the time capsule is an original JHU News-Letter article from Spring of 2020, written about students moving out of their dorm rooms and being virtual through "at least April 12, 2020." We all bonded over scrambling to move out of our dorms. The pandemic challenged the resiliency of our relationships, but in typical Blue Jay fashion, we took it in stride and found ways to virtually connect. And now here we are.

Put simply, we, the Class of 2023, are literally a living time capsule of college before, during, and after the height of COVID. Where the last things that we put in there will be the first things that people see in the future.

So, even while today marks the last time we will be together as a class, I want you to remember that it will be only one of the many bookends that frame the chapters, books, and volumes of our lives. Now, fellow Blue Jays, make us proud.

Thank you!

Johns Hopkins University

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