The Swarthmore community demonstrated compassion, creativity, and resourcefulness in reimagining Alumni Weekend 2021 as a virtual, yearlong Reunion Celebration. While alumni missed the opportunity to return to campus, the virtual format allowed some alums to attend reunion for the very first time.
The yearlong celebration culminated with a Virtual Parade of Classes and Alumni Collection on Saturday, June 12, which was broadcast on Facebook and Youtube. During Collection, Alumni Council President BoHee Yoon ’01 recognized this year’s Alumni Award Winners: Bob Barr ’56, winner of the Joseph B. Shane Alumni Service Award; Rochelle “Shelley” Laws ’01, winner of the Arabella Carter Community Service Award; and Marcella Nunez-Smith ’96, winner of the Eugene Lang Impact Award. Nunez-Smith, a doctor, educator, health researcher, and advocate for health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations, was also this year’s Collection Speaker. President Valerie Smith shared updates from campus for the alumni community.
Classes celebrating milestone reunions — class years ending in 1, 6, the Class of 2019, and Garnet Sages — organized happy hours, performances, and lectures hosted on Zoom. In total, Class Reunion Committees organized 50 events with more than 1500 attendees during 77 hours of Zoom calls. Highlights included:
- A virtual 5K organized by the Class of 1991 to honor their classmate Nick Jesdanun ’91, who passed away from COVID-19 last year. Nick loved running — he completed 83 marathons including one on each continent. Participants received a printable race bib and shared photos of themselves participating in the 5K.
- The Class of 1976 wrote and performed parodies of songs from their time at Swarthmore.
- The oldest class to participate was the Class of 1951. Classmates hopped on Zoom for a Reunion Social in late May.
- A number of classes hosted TEDx-style “Parrish Parlor Talks” to learn about areas of professional or personal expertise from friends and classmates.
- The Class of 1966 enjoyed a concert from classmate and esteemed musician Freebo ’66 and collaborator Alice Howe.
In addition to class activities, the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office organized opportunities for all alumni to participate, including alumni and faculty lectures and workshops. Reunion year alumni were invited to sign up for a Reunion-in-a-Box filled with Swarthmore goodies — including a plant from the Scott Arboretum — or commit to Acts of Service in May and June.
Overall, the success of Reunion 2021 is thanks to the willingness of the Swarthmore community to adapt and innovate. Planning for Alumni Weekend 2022 is underway and more information will be available this fall.