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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Grateful to Celebrate

Two years ago, Sean Newhouse ’20 was focused on life after Dayton, not a pandemic. But a pandemic — and the impact it had on the end of his time as a college student — was exactly what he got.

“The day the University shut down I actually had a job interview. Neither the interviewer nor I thought to bring up COVID-19. That evening, the University closed for two weeks.”

Those first two weeks turned into three, and then longer. After in-person lessons were moved online, Newhouse returned home to Pennsylvania. He continued to research, write and publish articles through his role as online editor-in-chief of Flyer News and found ways to navigate his new reality. He even set up virtual game nights with his roommates, who also left campus.

And then came the news. There would be no in-person graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.

“That was really upsetting but understandable.”

And while the worldwide shutdown may have lasted longer than anyone expected, time marched on. Newhouse began working as a congressional committee reporter for CQ Roll Call in Washington, D.C., working remotely at first while continuing to live at home with his parents.

“That’s one of the positives I wouldn't have had without the pandemic. I think even my parents would agree that we have a good relationship and that me being home for a while was enjoyable for all of us.”

When talk of a 2020 celebration began, Newhouse was all in. He jumped on board the planning committee, gathered input from fellow 2020 alumni about what they wanted to happen and helped finalize plans for the celebration, set for Saturday, May 14. But he admits that he is among those who had originally hoped something would be held in 2021.

“I know some other universities held makeup graduations in 2021 that still had to be scaled down because of various reasons. This is unique because, in an alternate universe, graduation probably would have been the last time that I saw some of my fellow graduates. But now I'll see them two years later and see if we've changed or maybe we're all the same.”

Newhouse says he now realizes that the decision to wait until this summer was for the best.

“I don't think it’s about closure anymore. A year ago, if you asked me, I think I would have said that was the reason I was motivated. But now, seeing old friends, seeing them in this unique set of circumstances, I am grateful and, in that sense, I would say I view it as a celebration. It’s a time to reflect and think about everything we’ve been through since leaving college and the events that affected all that.”

So now, Newhouse is looking forward not just to the celebration, but also to how it will impact his future.

“I don't know if I’ll have kids, but if I do, graduations are going to be very important for me. My kids are going to be like, ‘Why do you care so much dad?’ And I’m going to be like, ‘I didn't get one, so you're going to have a great time, and I'm going to have a great time.’”

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