2020 graduating class reflects on their Michigan memories
The graduating class of 2020 had a strange and unexpected end to their college experience. The outbreak of COVID-19 halted many normal activities – classes were held virtually, research labs worked remotely, and many students lived off campus or out of town beginning in March. In-person commencement activities were cancelled or postponed, and the graduates had to put usual traditions on hold until the crisis subsided. It wasn’t ideal, but the students still had plenty of reason to celebrate. They not only completed their schooling, but did so in the face of extraordinary circumstances. They look ahead to a challenging future, but one in which their work can make a real impact.
We asked the students – computer science, computer engineering, data science, and CSE graduate students – to share memories and reflections from their Michigan experience to commemorate their achievement in their own way. See the small “yearbook” of the respondents below (click images to enlarge).
Benjamin Carney – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Anthony Wohlfeil – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering
My advice to younger students is to take advantage of every opportunity. There’s a million things to do at Michigan and you have the ability to pursue anything that you want (even if it’s not directly related to your field of study). It’s cliché to say that it goes by faster than you think, but it’s absolutely true. It seems like one day you’re in East Quad for orientation, then the next you’re turning in your last assignment of undergrad, so make the most of every minute.
Kexin Wang – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Sahil Farishta – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
No time at UM is complete until you’ve had Ramen at Tomokun’s.
Mark Fonte – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Wes Weimer’s EECS 481 (Software Engineering) is the best class at Michigan!
Dear incoming students: it’s going to take a while before you figure things out. Classes are harder, living on your own is hard, finding new friends and your new identity is hard. But everyone is going through the same stuff together, so just be nice to yourself, give it time, and know that you’re never, ever alone.
Forever go blue!
Brian Guo – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Why Michigan? It’s all of the incredible people that surround you and the experiences you share with them. From my freshman year roommate to an alum in NYC who graciously introduced me to the alumni softball team to all of the amazing groups and organizations I’ve been a part of, there is no prouder feeling than being a part of this community forever!
I was in Cuba for winter break and found a fellow Michigan fan from Thunder Bay, Canada. We instantly became friends and watched the bowl game together!
My favorite class was definitely EECS 481, Software Engineering with professor Wes Weimer. Not only did he semi-accurately throw candy at anyone who answered a question, his energy and thoughtfulness made lecture one of the highlights of the week.
Isabelle Williams – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Some of my fondest memories are from those little interactions of running into friends in line at Mujo or Panda, or in the lobby of the BBB. With online learning, those interactions are what I have missed most. I also miss the comfort of walking in to a lecture hall and knowing I have an “assigned” seat in between peers who became good friends. To Jacob and Craig in 183, Caroline and Izzy in 280, Caroline again in 281, Bella in 485, Prachi, Fee and Montana in 445, Samast in 376, and Prachi and Craig again in 493 (and even those I can’t recall): thanks for always saving me a seat 🙂
Rachel Menge – Master’s, Computer Science and Engineering
I could spend this whole time thanking the professors who encouraged me and motivated me, the friends who I stayed up studying and laughing with, and the classes and organizations which helped shape me BUT I will simply say it was a great 5 years 🙂
Xiang Yang – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
When I was in London for relief (after I finally learned “She was not that interested in me.”), walking on the streets of the north bank of River Thames . “Go Blue!” A gentlemen looks like in his 40s greeted me and made my day. I noticed that I was in my “College of Engineering U of M” hoodie. “Go Blue!!!!”. This made my day and temporally relieved my feelings being dumped. She would be just a small silly snapshot of my life, but I will GO BLUE for the rest of my life : )
Alexa Gillman – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Tejas Harith – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering
What a time to be alive!
Gauri Kambhatla – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
My past four years at Michigan have been some of the most life-changing I’ve had. I’ve been part of the most meaningful projects, taken thought-provoking classes, found inspiring mentors, and made incredible friends. Every lesson I’ve learned and each memory I’ve made will stay with me forever, both the difficult and the extraordinary.
Milo Hartsoe – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
I’ve had a great time at U-M! Best of luck to everyone!
Ryan Slade – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering
So crazy that my time at Michigan has come to an end! A strange way to finish to say the least, but I am so grateful for everything I have learned in class, the professional opportunities I have been granted, and the close friends I’ve made along the way.
Best place I’ve gotten a ‘Go Blue’? Backpacking in the middle-of-nowhere-Utah
Favorite class? EECS 280 (S/O to all the great people I’ve met on course staff)
Best memory? Demolishing ND in the pouring rain at the Big House
Thank you to all of my professors, friends, and family who have supported me throughout my time at Michigan! Go Blue!
Annabel Allen – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
My photos show my first U-M football game freshman year vs. my last football game senior year, my Senior Design Expo team with our Hololens project, and visiting my friend studying in Barcelona while I studied abroad in London
Matteo Dristas – Bachelor’s, Data Science
There are two things you should never turn down in college: free food and a free t-shirt.
Yuxuan Bao – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
If I were to say about my favorite things at the U of M, I could sit here talking till when the first cherry blossoms bloom in May. But of all those memories, the very first one that comes to my mind is when I heard “Winterreise” in my sophomore year at the Hill Auditorium – what a perfection! After all this time, I still recall the torrent of emotion released within me on that bright Sunday afternoon, when the winter iris was swaying in the still-cold breezes of early February.
It has been fun taking a walk in the arboretum no matter what season I was at. Canoeing down the Huron river in the hot summer sun was super friendly to beginners but sunscreen is very much needed. Hatcher library closes at 2 am on weekdays, so if you ever fell asleep while studying for exam, you could find yourself waking up in complete darkness – and I have to admit it was quite thrilling at start. On the way back to South quad, walking pass the law quad on a snowy winter night is like entering the world of Harry Potter. You could hear your own steps in the gentle moonlight that floats in midair. In late autumn and early spring, there could be huge fog that covers the entire central campus. But by the middle of June, the fireflies paint a whole new picture of downtown Ann Arbor. A bit of magic is added to almost everything.
Japanese food on central campus is exquisite, but the crepes at Café Zola are even better. Jerusalem Garden and Mongolian Grill are places where food is cheap and good. And Pizza House is a lifesaver for the math students who study till dawn without having a kitchen in their houses.
Two years ago, when my girlfriend came to visit me from California, she joined me in my Slavic 312 course on Eastern European cinema. We watched films together and attended discussion sections together at the basement of modern language building. Theodore, an assistant technician for that course, wrote a message for us on the blackboard. And it was in French – “joie de vivre”.
We’re a big community. I still remember when I was greeted “Go Blue” by a random person on the San Francisco subway because I was wearing a Michigan Hat. Now, across the distance, us new graduates are spreading out to the world – just like how we gathered here years ago. Best of luck to everyone and we’ll always be on each other’s side.
Nick Connelly – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
My time studying Computer Science at the University of Michigan was everything I could have asked for. Outside the classroom, I’ll never forget going to Michigan Basketball and Football games – especially the Final Four in San Antonio! I will forever be grateful for my time at Michigan. Go Blue!
Razeen Ghazi – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Xiyuan Chen – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
I have immensely enjoyed my life as a CS undergraduate at U-M! Developing a mobile application, obtaining an internship, writing up a research paper as well as presenting work at a poster session are all my first-time experiences here at U-M I could hardly forget. Thank you to U-M for providing a supportive and welcoming environment for my three-year exploration! Thank you to the best-ever professors and my outstanding Wolverine peers for all your generous help along the way! I am proud of myself achieving this significant milestone of my life journey! I am proud of joining the big family of Wolverine alumni! FOREVER GO BLUE!
Shuyang Wang – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
I like the vending machine at BBB 🙂
Derek Chen – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
After leaving my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I initially didn’t think I could’ve found the same close-knit group of friends I had while growing up. Was I ever wrong. I’ve loved every moment I’ve had with my UMich family, especially my fellow musicians in the Michigan Pops Orchestra. I looked forward to every concert, every hangout session, and every occasion we had to be together. The extracurriculars are really what make the college experience truly amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some great memories from classmates and professors. Shout-out to Elliot Soloway, Mark Guzdial, Marcus Darden, and Jeff Ringenberg! Classes can get stressful, but in the end, I appreciated learning from everyone.
To all the incoming students, I would suggest joining as many clubs as you can early on. You never know what group of people will become your UMich family these years. Take every opportunity to work for a professor, either in independent study or as a research assistant. And lastly, enjoy your time in college! Before you know it, you won’t be the young, fresh, energetic young adult anymore.
Tia Jin – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Some of my fondest memories are the football games, Ann Arbor in the springtime, and most importantly, the incredible people that I met here who have played such an important role in my life. I came to college with so much uncertainty, but I have learned to step outside my comfort zone and be appreciative of the colorful world around me. If I could leave advice to the incoming students: Live in the moment and expand your horizons.
Rupal Nigam – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
It would be an understatement to say that my past 3 years here have been absolutely incredible. I am so grateful to have these amazing memories and experiences with my friends and the support of my professors. Dawn Treader, Kilwin’s fudge, Michigan Creamery, Isalita, and the Dude will always hold a special place in my heart.
Qichen Fu – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Jiayi Chen – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering
Prachi Gokhale – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
One of my favorite professors was Sindhu Kutty! I took EECS 445 (Machine Learning) with her, and she effortlessly made complex topics digestible for students. She was such an inspiration to me and I’ll never forget that class.
To all my fellow 2020 grads, congrats! With the help of many Mujo runs, we all made it! I encourage everyone to be excited about the bright future we have and try not to dwell in what could’ve been. We will always be Wolverines — go blue!
Pictured: freshman year before moving into Markley —> senior year after moving out
Medha Adusumilli – Bachelor’s, Computer Science
Tarun Khubchandani – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering
The memories I’ve made at the University of Michigan are ones I’ll cherish forever. Thank you to all of the faculty that have pushed me over the last four years to keep growing as an engineer and who have been motivators through all of the seemingly impossible problem sets and projects. To my friends and family who have had my back through it all, from the all nighters to the celebratory drinks, you are what made this experience so memorable and I couldn’t have done this without you! GO BLUE!
Ruiqi Wang – Bachelor’s, Computer Engineering