Dear University of Maine at Augusta class of 2020,

My name is Courtney Allen. I am a mother, a soon-to-be wife, a scholar, a community member, a person living in long-term recovery, and today I join you as a graduate of the class of 2020 from the University of Maine at Augusta. I too am disappointed that we will not walk the stage together today, but I look forward to joining you all in the fall to celebrate our collective accomplishments and to grieve our collective losses.

The last few months have not been easy. Many of us have lost our jobs or have been sent home from internships. Some of us have spent the last weeks of our undergrad learning to become teachers of our children, and there may be some people within our ranks who have lost loved ones to the tiny virus that has forced us to change the way we live, work and play for the collective good of our communities. I cannot say with certainty what the next few months will bring.

But class of 2020, I challenge you not to see this as the greatest tragedy of our lifetimes but as our greatest opportunity to serve the state of Maine, our nation and our world. We are the next generation of nurses who will put our lives on the lines in ways that were never expected before.

We are the counselors who will be asked to flatten the curve of depression, substance use and isolation to bring comfort to our clients.

We are the teachers who will return to our communities ready to welcome our students back in the fall.

We are the pilots who will develop creative ways to keep our planes safe. We are the scientists who will find a cure. We are the small business owners who will keep Maine’s economy going. We are the graduate students who will go on to study public health, policy, medicine and law. We are the case managers who will help to ensure that people have access to their basic necessities. And we are the advocates whose voices are bold, especially in the face of injustice.

We are the front line.

And with us on the front lines, I know that we will recover — as a state, a nation and a world.

 

Courtney Allen lives in Augusta.


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