2021 Graduates Tested to the Max

Declaring the Class of ’21 the “most tested” in Tulane history (literally and figuratively, with Tulane students taking half a million COVID-19 tests this academic year to allow for in-person learning), President Michael A. Fitts conferred 3,014 academic degrees during a virtual Unified Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 22.

He said, “Class of ’21, you are survivors. You are fighters. You’ve been through the crucible of a global pandemic. You’ve raised your voices in solidarity with racial equity. You’ve used this moment to catapult to something greater. You’ve discovered what you stand for, and what simply cannot stand. All the things that tested your bonds only managed to forge them and bring you closer together. The pandemic taught us that our fates are intertwined — that we have an obligation to others. How will you use that knowledge to solve the world’s biggest problems? How will you care for your community and revel in our shared humanity to make our world better?”

Ruby Bridges, who integrated New Orleans public schools as a first-grader in 1960, was the Commencement speaker. Bridges said that history challenges everyone to meet the moment — no matter the obstacles in their path. “Make no mistake about it, there came a time when I became aware of the hate that surrounded me as a child. Yet, the opportunity to change a system was more powerful.”

In the days preceding the virtual ceremony, seven Tulane schools held individual in-person diploma ceremonies outdoors in Yulman Stadium. The School of Medicine held its ceremony at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

students take selfies at A. B. Freeman's 2021 commencement exercises
A. B. Freeman School of Business graduates celebrate by taking a selfie at the in-person diploma ceremony in Yulman Stadium.