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These Boise State Grads Will Be Part Of The Solution In A Post-COVID-19 World

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Boise State University will make history Saturday, May 9 when it honors nearly 2,900 grads with the the university's first-ever virutal commencement ceremony. The celebration will include full notification of each of this Class of 2020, including 389 cum laude, 311 magna cum laude and 85 summa cum laude grads.

Among the best and the brighest are Austin Lamb of Fargo, North Dakota; Daniele Moro of Avezzano, Italy; and Emily Pape of Boise, Idaho. On the eve of their big day, they joined Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about how they'll celebrate Saturday, how their dreams have evolved through the college years, and their impressive plans for the future.

“Not being at commencement together physically isn't going to break the relationships that we've built over the past four years.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. The pandemic has changed nearly everything in American life. It has had a dramatic impact on education and tomorrow, Boise State will conduct its first ever digital graduation ceremony. And this morning we're lucky enough to spend some time with four of the Boise State's class of 2020. Indeed, they are a class act and joining us via Zoom live this morning are Austin Lamb, his hometown is Fargo, North Dakota. Daniele Moro, hometown of Avezzano, Italy. And Emily Pape, hometown, Boise, Idaho. Good morning to all of you.

AUSTIN LAMB: Good morning.

EMILY PAPE: Good morning.

DANIELE MORO: Good Morning.

PRENTICE: Well let's go through this. I want to make sure that we have all of this. Emily, according to the record here, I see you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts in global studies and economics, yes?

EMILY: Pretty much. I'll have the Bachelor of Arts in global studies with an emphasis in economics.

PRENTICE: What's the next step for you?

PAPE: I've been accepted at a master of public policy program at the University of Chicago. And so, all things calming down, I should be headed there in the fall.

PRENTICE: Okay. Austin Lamb, Bachelor of Science in political science and Spanish.

LAMB: That's correct. Yep.

PRENTICE: And best case scenario for you? Where will you be in the fall?

LAMB: Well, this coming year I'll be serving a year in AmeriCorps in Hays, Montana, where I will be teaching language arts at an elementary school. And following that I'll go on to study political theory at Boston College. After which I hope to be a professor. I've just been in school up to this point and I figure I'll keep doing that.

PRENTICE: Wow. Daniele Moro, Bachelor of Science in computer science, yes?

MORO: Yes. That's correct.

PRENTICE: And where might you be in the fall?

MORO: I am really excited to head off to Google in Mountain View, California.

PRENTICE: Oh, my goodness.

MORO: Where I'll be a software engineer and doing research in artificial intelligence. So yeah.

PRENTICE: So, tell me, how will you each celebrate?

PAPE: This is Emily. The plan right now is I think it'll just be me and my immediate family watching the virtual commencement. Maybe popping some champagne, something along those lines tomorrow. But in my family we also have... I have two cousins who are also graduating college this year. One at U of I, and one at the University of Utah. And I think one of my uncles is scheming to put together something of a backyard commencement for the three of us sometime later in the summer. Which, we'll see how that turns out.

MORO; This is Daniele. As you might know, I was born in Italy and my family moved here when I was a kid. So now that my sister is also graduating from high school, and I'm graduating from college. I'm looking forward to having a big Italian dinner tomorrow. Where we'll be eating my mom's famous homemade lasagna, and tiramisu. It should be really fun.

LAMB: This is Austin. I'll just be in the same room that I am in right now celebrating with my family. It's been nice to reconnect with them. Sort of the silver lining about this whole pandemic is to be able to be back in North Dakota and see them. Then we have a new baby in the house. Which is just a total boon for everyone's spirits. So, I'm looking forward to some quality time there.

PRENTICE: Austin, could you talk a little bit more about that, and what you possibly have learned during this quarantine?

LAMB:

Well, it's kind of a weird parallelism in my family right now, but when my mom was in her senior year of college, she was in Grand Forks, North Dakota. And it was '97 and that town flooded. Like, basically, completely destroyed under water and they had to evacuate, and her senior of college was gone.

And so we sort of share that experience now in a way with this pandemic. I mean the adverse of it is that I'm back here with my family now, which is a good thing. And while a lot of my Boise friendships, and my relationships there, and my relationships with my family over there got cut short, it just means that I can see another side of the coin. And be with people that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

PRENTICE: Daniele, what have you learned?

MORO: For me, I've been surprised by how resilient everyone has been during this period. At first I thought it would be an easy transitioning, going everything online. But then I've started to realize, how much all my professors, and organizers, how much time they spent into having to transition online so quickly.

MORO: I recently was a part of the Undergraduate Research Showcase Lightening Talk. And they did an amazing job with that, where they had to go completely to YouTube Live, and these new forms of technology. And everyone went along with it, and it really worked out. I've also been on the flip side of that. I've been working, for a few months, with some other scholars on creating a national conference for Goldwater scholars. But unfortunately because of the pandemic, we had to cancel that event. We kind of quickly transitioned to an online webinar format, and I was mostly in charge of the technology there. So it wasn't easy but it worked out and everyone was super engaged and helpful. So I want to be optimistic, right? Even though we are in these uncertain times, I think it's still impressive to see how willing everyone is to change, and make the most of the situation.

PRENTICE: Emily?

PAPE: Kind of similar to Austin, I was really hoping for some closure in my last year of college. With like, the friendships I've built, and kind of the experience that I've had. But something I've really come to terms in the past couple of weeks is that relationships that are strong enough don't really need those big days. They're built on the small ones. And so I look back and I know that the friendships I've made in college will kind of like... I became really close to this person because of one night when we like hung out and watched an episode of a TV show and then had a really deep discussion. And not being at commencement together physically isn't going to break the relationships that we've built over the past four years. But I've also kind of come to terms with the fact that while perspective helps in terms of, I'm healthy, my family's healthy, we're very lucky.

It's also okay for me to mourn these lost experiences. Just because they would have been a valuable part of my life story that has now changed.

PRENTICE: Well, I don't have to tell the three of you to dream big because it appears as if that indeed is what you continue to do. All I know is that the world will be better because of you, and congratulations to each of you.

PAPE: Thank you.

LAMB: Thank you.

MORO: Thank you.

PRENTICE: And they are Austin Lamb, and Daniele Moro, and Emily Pape. The class of 2020. Take care. Be safe.

LAMB: You stay safe as well.

PAPE: You as well.

MORO: Thank you. You as well.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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