MSU President's Newspaper Column

May 22, 2021

Reflecting on the work that happens at ‘The School of Personal Service’

On Saturday, May 15 we celebrated and made memories as we marked Mayville State University’s 129th commencement. The opportunity to do this in a face-to-face format while following COVID-19 safety guidelines as much as possible was much-appreciated by all.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, it’s that we take many basic things for granted. One such item is the ability to be together to celebrate special times. While we had to limit the number of attendees (four for each graduate), we gave our all-out best Mayville State effort to make sure it was a great day for our graduates and their family members and friends.

In reflecting on the day, I am flooded with thoughts of how Mayville State’s commitment to personal service has made an impact in the lives of our students. Over and over again, we heard about and saw examples of how our students have made doing good for others a way of life. It makes me proud to know how these members of the Mayville State family make a positive difference in our world.

Commencement day began with the annual graduation brunch hosted by the Mayville State Alumni Association. The warm and family-filled atmosphere provided the backdrop to the sharing of heartfelt sentiments and memories by outstanding student speakers Frida Garcia Kjelland, Evan Kritzberger, and Abby Kohls. It was wonderful to hear about how their experiences at Mayville State have helped them to be comfortable, to be accepted, and to grow as people and professionals.

These special thoughts and reflections continued during the commencement ceremony, where graduates Kaitlyn Kuntz and Mary Peterson shared their views on their Mayville State experiences. Mary spoke about following your dreams, no matter what obstacles you face. She encouraged her fellow-graduates to “Go and be great.” Kaitlyn talked about how she used advice and encouragement from her parents to make it her mission to be the reason someone smiles and make her little corner of the world better. This small challenge helped her to blossom, and small things that happened throughout her Mayville State journey added up to be big things. She left this final message with her follow graduates, “With joy, and in love, let’s go reach people.”

Our keynote speaker for the day was 1995 Mayville State graduate Michelle (Worner) Kommer. Michelle is enjoying a successful career that has involved work in the private business sector as well as in the world of public service in the state of North Dakota.

In her inspirational message, Kommer explained that Mayville State has what she and her siblings, both of whom are Mayville State graduates, refer to as the “boutique effect.” They know that graduating with relatively good grades from a small school without name recognition and in a small state is a passport to being able to do anything you want to do. “Mayville State is known nationally for producing some of the best graduates anywhere,” she said.

“As a graduate of Mayville State, you will be regarded for you work ethic, your common sense, and your strong character. You do not need an Ivy League degree because you are a Comet.”

I was touched by a short visit and kind note received from a student who let me know how much my involvement on campus had meant to her as she worked to meet the requirements of her degree. This is someone who was very involved not only in her academic studies, but also as a member of the campus community. She definitely made a positive impact on campus in a number of ways, including for me personally.

The words and actions of the day and days leading up to commencement warmed my heart. I’ve gotten to know so many of these graduates on a personal level since they were relatively new to Mayville State when I arrived in the summer of 2018. We’ve learned from one another and grown to love Mayville State together … and now, much like a proud father, it is time to send them on their way soaring. We will miss them, but we look forward to hearing from them and to rejoicing with them in all of the good things we know are ahead for them.

Scenes from Commencement 2021

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