The commencement events kicked off Friday with Honors Convocation at the LSSU Arts Center. Each graduate was introduced and awarded laurels for earning cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude honors, then presented with their honor cords.
The celebration continued with the annual Pinning Ceremony of Nursing graduates. This time-honored tradition signified the completion of the Bachelor of Science nursing program, and represented professionalism and educational achievements. The ceremony symbolized the School of Nursing faculty welcoming the graduating students to the profession of nursing.
Friday’s festivities concluded with the Golden Grads Reunion at LSSU President Dr. Rodney Hanley’s home on campus. The Golden Grad Society includes those who left campus at least fifty years ago, in 1969 or earlier. Some Golden Grads also joined students as they marched in Saturday’s commencement ceremony.
Commencement began with the lively student processional to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D Major” by Sir Edward Elgar. Faculty and Administrators Processional followed with Bob Duncan Pipe Band performing “Wings” and “Rowan Tree”.
President Hanley greeted the audience of students, alumni, family, friends, faculty, and staff and welcomed them to the event. He then introduced Ms. Karen Hughes Beacom, who sang the national anthems of both Canada and the United States of America.
Ms. Ann Parker, Chair, Board of Trustees formally installed Dr. Hanley as the tenth Lake Superior State University President and officially welcomed him to the University.
President Hanley’s inaugural address challenged graduates by asking, “What new ideas, discoveries, improvements will you make to the betterment of yourself and the broad breadth of humanity that is all our responsibility to serve?”
He also referenced author David Brooks’, latest book, The Second Mountain – The Quest for a Moral Life which speaks of a second mountain where life moves from the focus of being self-centered to the other-centered. “My hope today is that your education here at Lake Superior State University has given you the tools, motivation, and the will for you to find that task, purpose, or calling that best suits your talents and abilities to put you on the pathway to finding your second mountain.”
President Hanley closed his remarks with his hopes for graduates, “And, as a member of the class of 2019, it is my hope that you will – that in some way – choose a pathway of service and commitment.”
Dr. Lynn Gillette, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs presented longtime communications professor, Dr. George Denger, with the Distinguished Teaching Award. A committee consisting of recent award recipients, along with graduating students, solicited nominations from students, co-workers, and alumni.
Dr. Denger accepted the prestigious award with great humor that kept the audience in stitches. He referenced an Abraham Lincoln quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt” and joked that in this case he didn’t seem to have that option available. Dr. Denger then called this development “very pleasantly bizarre” and asked for time to collect his ruminations on the “extremely startling, wonderful, and strange event”, inviting everyone to join him at the Crow’s Nest after commencement.
Dr. Gillette introduced the Student Respondent, Molly Campbell. Miss Campbell is an Ontario-native and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry, summa cum laude, and plans to continue her studies in medical school in the fall.
Miss Campbell gave an inspiring speech on her time at LSSU, and encouraged her peers to embrace the future. “While we don’t know for sure what the future will hold, we should be confident that we are well prepared for whatever comes our way.” Miss Campbell also made a point to thank everyone, from family and friends to faculty, that helped the graduates along their way.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, then dream a little bigger. Learn from your mistakes. Get back up when you fall down, and keep going,” Miss Campbell asserted.
Dr. Hanley presented the Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Todd Zakrajsek. Dr. Zakrajsek is a 1985 psychology alum from Lake Superior State College. Currently, Dr. Zakrajsek is an Associate Research Professor in the department of Family Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
Dr. Zakrajsek delivered the commencement address, which focused on “increasing attractiveness” which was not defined by what you look like, but by who you are. He recommended that graduates know their true value, get others to see their value, and do something of value everyday.
“Be mindful of your past, but be forward thinking. Recognize your own value, but figure out who you are. Get others to hear your voice and to see your value. Do things that add value to yourself and others. Get what you deserve, and the resources you need, and always strive for more,” Dr. Zakrajsek said.
During the conferral of degrees and delivery of diplomas, LSSU Foundation’s Executive Director Tom Coates announced the graduates, while faculty took a final opportunity to congratulate them on their success and wish them well in their future endeavors.
Dr. Hanley delivered the closing remarks, “As you go forth today and begin the next chapter of your great adventure, always remember as a closing charge: where there’s justice support it, where there’s injustice eradicate it, where there is need give it, where there’s compassion, embrace it, and where there is joy, spread it.”
The ceremony ended with smiles, hugs, and congratulations abound from friends, families, faculty, and staff while Aabizii, Traditional Native American Drummers from Brimley, Mich., performed “Honor Song” during the Recessional.