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Holy Cross graduates celebrate online — with special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a 1962 Holy Cross alumnus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a 1962 Holy Cross alumnus.Kevin Dietsch/Bloomberg

More than 700 College of the Holy Cross graduates received life advice from the nation’s best-known epidemiologist along with their digital diplomas in a virtual commencement celebration Friday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, and a 1962 Holy Cross graduate — reflected on the unique experience of students completing their studies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am profoundly aware that graduating during this time and in this virtual way, unable to celebrate in person this important milestone in your lives, with your friends, classmates and teachers, is extremely difficult,” Fauci said. “I encourage you to stay strong and unflinching. The country and the world need your talent, your energy, your resolve and your character.”

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Fauci called graduates “my intellectual and spiritual brothers and sisters” and said the college, where he studied classics with a premedical concentration, “holds a very special place in my heart."

"The education that you and I have received at Holy Cross, steeped in Jesuit traditions, should suit us well to confront and ultimately overcome this historic pandemic," Fauci said.

Holy Cross plans an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 in the spring of 2021.

Friday’s 28-minute video celebration included messages of congratulations and encouragement from many graduates, alumni, and leaders at the Worcester liberal arts college.

Margaret N. Freije, the college’s provost and dean, saluted graduates for getting through a difficult and unpredictable final semester.

“You have demonstrated perseverance, creativity, and resilience as you have completed your Holy Cross career in a way that none of us could have imagined,” Freije said. “You have comforted one another in times of tragedy. You have confronted one another in the face of discrimination. And you have engaged in dialogue with one another on the challenges facing our Holy Cross community and our world.”

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The Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, Holy Cross’s president, also praised students’ flexibility.

“All of us at Holy Cross will forever think of you as the most resilient, creative and generous class, who sustained many challenges and triumphed,” he said. “May the questions that your education and formation here have encouraged and inspired give you direction and passion for the work ahead. And may your faith in God and each other bring you blessing and hope in all that lies before you.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.