Chad Williams on Buffalo State campus

Buffalo State Hosts Reunion Celebration for Class of 2020


This month, Buffalo State will provide an opportunity for 2020 alumni to reunite, celebrate, and enjoy memorable moments they couldn’t share four years ago. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Buffalo State University maintained its commitment to the safety of students, faculty, and staff, which meant many difficult decisions—like the postponement of 2020 Commencement ceremonies and the move to hold them virtually the following September. 

While the Class of 2020 understood and respected these decisions, it didn’t lessen their disappointment.

“Graduations are a pat on the back for the countless hours that you put in to get to that point,” said Chad Williams, ’20. “Although it was canceled for a great reason—to keep people safe—we were robbed of a moment we worked hard for.”

For Williams, crossing the stage represented more than just the completion of his bachelor’s degree; it signified a triumph after fighting to clear his name from a wrongful arrest his junior year. The charges were eventually dropped, and the experience inspired him to found dooProcess, a clothing brand with a cause, in fall 2019.

“That graduation in 2020 would have been more than just a walk,” Williams said. “It would have been a symbolic stride forward, a declaration to the world that a wrongful arrest would not define me.”

Williams shared these feelings with Jim Finnerty, vice president for institutional advancement and external affairs, who connected him to Katelyn Brickhouse, director of Buffalo State’s Alumni Engagement Office. Conversations about a belated celebration began.

“Katelyn was very receptive,” Williams said. “I had a hand in the planning and spreading the word, but she did an amazing job bringing this event to fruition.”

This year, alumni from the Class of 2020 will have the chance to reunite and celebrate their accomplishments on Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, through multiple scheduled events. Attendees may choose to participate in some or all events by registering online.

The weekend will begin with school-specific receptions from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, giving 2020 alumni the chance to reconnect with deans, chairs, and professors.

From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., the Senior Send-Off party, held in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center, will mark the symbolic transition from student to alumnus with socializing, refreshments, and an exclusive T-shirt (design voted on by the Class of 2020). 

Williams looks forward to reuniting with classmates. “COVID-19 put an abrupt stop to my last semester,” he said. “I have not seen some people that I developed close bonds with in years.”

All Saturday events will be held in the Social Hall of the Campbell Student Union. From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., attendees will experience the quintessential crossing of the stage and remarks from alumni speaker Del Reid, ’04, founder of 26 Shirts and co-founder of the Bills Mafia movement. The dress code is business casual; caps and gowns may be worn but are not required. 

Jennifer Augstell and Ashley Augstell

The Augstells (Jennifer, '10, and Ashley, '20) are a Buffalo State legacy family.

The stage-crossing event will be followed by a reception, which will provide the important opportunity for alumni to celebrate their accomplishments with loved ones. 

“Ever since I was young, my family always did it big during graduation time,” Williams said. “From finding ways to get extra tickets so everyone could come, to making the most noise in the room when it was our time to walk. My mom visited Buffalo just once—to drop me off for my freshman year. This belated ceremony offers her the long-awaited opportunity to return to Buffalo, this time to watch me walk across the stage.”

Ashley Augstell, ’20, and her mother, Jennifer, ’10, an administrative assistant in Buffalo State’s Academic Standards Office, share Williams’s excitement for the event.

“I’m truly proud to be a Buffalo State graduate,” Ashley Augstell said. “This event symbolizes the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and personal growth. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

“We’re a Buffalo State legacy family,” Jennifer Augstell added. “Ashley was there to support me at my ceremony in 2010, and now I finally get to see her cross the stage. I’m thrilled.”

“This event is not just a ceremony,” Williams said. “It’s a salute to the resilience and tenacity demonstrated by the Class of 2020 in the face of considerable challenges. The stage is set. It’s time we take our walk.”

For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the Buffalo State University Alumni Association’s website.

Top photo: Chad Williams, '20.

Photos by Alexis Arth.