Stanford Class of 2020 looks back at their time on the Farm

In a series of videos, seven graduates of the Class of 2020 share thoughts of their time on the Farm and look to the future with gratitude and optimism.

They were theater newbies who ended up producing Stanford’s beloved Gaieties. Track team walk-ons who worked their way to captain. First-gen, low-income students who ended up graduating debt-free, with near-perfect GPAs.

They took leaves of absence; danced professionally; modeled professionally; competed with Mock Trial; wrote honors theses; conducted research with faculty mentors. They found community in theme houses, centers and sororities; helped put on Blackfest and the Stanford Powwow; gave campus tours.

In other words, they were seven reasonably representative members of the Class of 2020 – and, like the rest of their cohort, they endured one of the most bizarre endings to an academic year in university history, all as the nation was beginning to grapple with the complications of pandemic, racial injustice and devastating wildfire.

How are Stanford’s most recent graduates thinking about their time on the Farm and considering the future? In short, with gratitude and optimism. “We have so many diverse skillsets,” Sophia Helfand says. “If each of us tackles [society’s challenges] from a unique standpoint … change will happen.” Here, in their own words, are seven of the university’s newest alumni.

Alyssa Farrow, Psychology, BA ’20

“I think I was able to grow not only academically but very much intellectually at Stanford. Being in a diverse place with different people from different backgrounds, but also being able to be with people who share the same background and identities as I do, has definitely empowered me, and shaped my growth.”

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Abby Chen, Human Biology, BS ’20

“It seems really, really daunting that we’re going out into the professional world, and I think, as Stanford grads, people expect a lot from us. … I would remind everyone there’s a reason they expect a lot from us.”

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Evan Michelle Miller, Communication, BA ’20

“I would say to the Class of 2020, remember that no one can take this away from us. We didn’t get the graduation that we thought we would have. We didn’t get the spring quarter that we thought we would have. But we still got a Stanford degree. That’s an amazing accomplishment.”

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Guillermo Camarillo, Management Science and Engineering, BS ’20

“It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can work hard and make something for yourself.”

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Sophia Helfand, Political Science, BA ’20

“My cohort has lived through really obvious examples of a lot of the problems in American society. It can oftentimes be overwhelming, and you can feel purposeless trying to solve these issues, because they’re so massive. [But] I think that if each of us tackles them from a unique standpoint … change will happen.”

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Fisayo Omilana, Symbolic Systems, BS ’20

“Being a student-athlete was a big part of my experience at Stanford. It made me grow so many relationships, mature as a person, grow as a leader. … I was just a freshman walk-on; I wasn’t supposed to be there. To end up where I did [as captain of the track team], it was truly a blessing.”

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Sam Duke, Theater and Performance Studies, BA ’20

“I always just feel so incredibly grateful that because of this institution, because of the financial aid I received, I was able to attend Stanford for four years, to graduate debt-free, and to be able to do something that I really loved without feeling the pressure of paying for it.”

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