MSU President's Newspaper Column

May 20, 2023 

Commencement … the culmination of all we do at Mayville State

Saturday, May 13 was an extra-special day at Mayville State University. Commencement 2023, a celebration of the most recent completion of degrees, is a day that will be near and dear in the hearts of many throughout their lifetimes.

Mayville State Associate Professor of Education and Alumni Association board member Dr. Kelli Odden helped to start the day on a fun and happy note in her role as emcee for the traditional graduation brunch. Hosted by the Alumni Association, the brunch is the official first alumni event for Mayville State’s newest graduates.

The Luckasen Room was filled with graduates and family members who enjoyed a delicious meal provided compliments of Bell Bank and served by Mayville State’s Dining Services staff. Graduates Sadie Mathews and Logan Hoff offered their reflections on behalf of their fellow graduates.

For the commencement ceremony, the Lewy Lee Fieldhouse was about as full as it could have been with graduates and their loved ones, faculty, and staff. Since Mayville State has just one commencement ceremony each year, the graduate population included those who had completed their degree requirements at the end of the fall and/or spring semester, as well as those who will finish up after the summer session. More than 230 people were eligible to participate in Commencement 2023. In at least recent memory, this is among the largest number of graduates we’ve recognized during our annual commencement festivities. About 125 of them participated in the commencement exercises on May 13.

For the first time, we recognized individuals who had earned our new Master of Science in Education degree. There were also Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Science in Nursing graduates, along with the others who’d earned bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

While the vast majority of the graduates are from North Dakota, international students from Canada, Taiwan, and Switzerland graduated. Other states represented in the group are California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Graduates MiKara Johanson and Brooke Roeges spoke on behalf of their classmates. We were also favored with words from Pastor Karen Seifert from Aurdal Lutheran Church in Portland, and North Dakota University System Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Strategic Engagement Jerry Rostad brought greetings on behalf of the State Board of Higher Education.

Keynote speaker Donn Hanson, 1980 Mayville State graduate, delivered an impactful and inspirational message to the graduates. His carefully chosen words left graduates and audience members alike with positive thoughts to ponder.

His advice to the graduates included the following: “Show up. Treat yourself and all around you with respect. Earn and retain people’s trust. Always lean forward. Have fun.” And in summary, he said, “When you’re faced with a situation that causes you to say, ‘Why me?’ … and it will happen, I hope you’ll have the confidence to say, ‘Why not me?’”

Donn has enjoyed a successful career and lives his life making a positive difference in our world, and he remembers his roots in this community and at Mayville State University. To have Donn offer his advice to our newest alumni was truly a blessing.

As I reflect on the day, I cannot help but be a bit emotional. Commencement Day is the culmination of all we do at Mayville State University. While I could not be happier for the graduates, many of whom I’ve come to know very well, I’m a bit sad knowing I won’t see them as often.

These individuals are treasured members of the Mayville State family and I look forward to hearing about all the good things that lie ahead for them and to learning about how they go forth to make positive strides in their careers and the communities where they live. Thank you to the Mayville State faculty and staff, as well as the area community members who have helped to make their Mayville State Experience one that has been impactful and memorable.