Open notebook with Queen's University illustration

Letter to the Class of 2020

Graduates of the Class of 2020 were recently sent a package that included a custom notebook and the following letter encouraging them to make a difference in their communities.


Dear Graduate of the Class of 2020,

You may be wondering why we are sending you this notebook. It’s not what we typically send to our graduates. But you are not a typical graduate.

We wanted to give you a gift that reflected the past year of your academic journey in a way that a hat, or a water bottle or shirt could not. It is impossible, of course, to really capture what you have been through, or what it took for you to accomplish your goals. Each of you will have a different story, but you are all united in hard work, determination, and above all, resilience. 

The motto of Queen’s, Sapientia et Doctrina Stabilitas, provides even deeper meaning in this gift, given in a year that has changed the world: Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. With your Queen’s degree, we know you have acquired the knowledge you need to be successful, but the wisdom you have gained in this last year will be what sustains you. We hope that within these pages, you can record some of that wisdom, to reflect, to dream, and perhaps, to share with us.

But this notebook is about more than that. We know that the Class of 2020 was touched by something that was unimaginable just a short time ago, an event that has changed the way we see ourselves, and each other. We hope that part of that change is about change for good, and change that can have meaning for our community — locally and beyond. In choosing this notebook, we also chose to support a cause that you, our alumni, have told us is important to you. That’s why every notebook we purchased for you will contribute to a charity of your choice. We’ll be reaching out to the Class of 2020 very soon to tell you how you can help us make that choice, and then we’ll announce the charity in the new year. We want to help you start 2021 with a spirit of giving, and by contributing to a cause that means something to you.

Giving, as you know, is about more than money. It’s also about time. That’s why this notebook also contains an invitation for you to help us give back in other ways, and to causes that resonate with you in personal ways, in your own communities. Consider this journal an invitation to turn something around. In this, our 180th year, Queen’s invites you to turn something 180 degrees for good by spending 180 minutes in your community. Perhaps you want to volunteer for a cause that is important to you. Or perhaps you want to join the board of an organization that is changing lives. Or maybe you’d like to share your skills with someone who needs a helping hand. Whatever it is, we want you to tell us about it — write in your journal and tell us how you spent your 180 minutes to turn something 180 degrees. Take a photo of the page and upload to social media, or scan and email it to us at We’ll share your stories of giving back with #180for180, so that you can inspire others to take up this challenge.

Finally, look carefully inside your journal. Tucked inside some of these books are blue, red, and gold tickets. Each one represents a special gift.

A blue ticket means that we will give you a Queen’s frame to proudly display your diploma. A red ticket means that we will provide you with career support*. And a rare golden ticket means that you will be given an exclusive opportunity to meet with some of most distinguished alumni — so that they can connect, inspire and welcome you into the global community of Queen’s alumni. These golden-ticket events will introduce you to recent graduates and those who graduated many years ago, but all have made their mark on their communities and in their professions. Meeting with them will be an experience you won’t soon forget, and their mentorship and guidance will open new doors to the world beyond Queen’s.

This year has been marked by change. By uncertainty. And loss.

But it has also been marked by your ability to succeed despite these challenges.
Today, we stand united and we move forward in that spirit of hope.
Today, we provide the blank page upon which we hope you will write a future that is uniquely yours — but that takes others on your journey.
Tomorrow will be different. 
And we can’t wait to read how it turns out.


*For Smith grads: A red ticket indicates a Queen’s Executive Education virtual course.