Commencement: An ending and beginning

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Greetings from Valley City State University!Saturday, May 11, marked the 127th Commencement Exercises at Valley City State University. It was a morning of pageantry and ceremony for the 130 students who “walked” and celebrated with their families and friends. In total, VCSU graduated more than 320 students this past academic year, including summer, winter and spring commencement. Some of the students receiving master’s degrees in our online programs were visiting campus and Valley City for the first time. A pre-commencement reception provided us with an opportunity to meet them in person and share some of the wonderful attributes of the VCSU campus and local community.Commencement activities mark an endpoint and new beginning for those receiving their degrees. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the years spent on campus and in Valley City. I can’t help but think of the sense of pride and accomplishment felt by the graduates and their family members on this special day. Years of hard work, drive, and determination, with memories of successes and challenges, culminate in one brief celebratory moment recognizing their achievements. In addition to my opening remarks, other reflections on the day came from Daniel Traynor, North Dakota State Board of Higher Education member; Marc Wagner, student speaker; and Emily Fenster, 2019 VCSU Teacher of the Year. Each provided outstanding words of congratulations, advice, and wisdom for our graduating class. Since this was my first opportunity to participate in a VCSU commencement, I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing some long-held traditions, including the faculty and staff walking through the students prior to the ceremony, and the students, conversely, doing the same at the ceremony’s conclusion to a well-deserved round of applause. You may wonder what the future holds for our VCSU graduates of 2019. Many have already accepted job offers, others are in the application and interview process, and others are pursuing advanced degrees in graduate or professional school in fields such as counseling law, health, medicine, and more. Our graduates are positioned and prepared to be successful in a variety of occupations including teachers and coaches, entrepreneurs, wildlife biologists and fisheries technicians, musicians and artists, bankers and financial advisors, communicators and marketers, and medical and health professionals, to name just a few. One thing is certain, a bright future lies ahead, and we are excited to see the powerful impact they make in their professions and communities in the future.Congratulations, graduates, and best wishes in your future endeavors. Go Vikings!