Featured photo by Bemidji State University
On May 8, more than 560 students, family members, faculty and staff joined to congratulate Bemidji State University’s Class of 2020 and acknowledge students’ commitment to the campus community in a virtual event broadcast on Zoom.
The virtual recognition honored feedback from graduating students, most of whom preferred to postpone a formal commencement ceremony rather than replace it with a fully virtual alternative. BSU’s 1,008 graduating students included 45 American Indian graduates, 326 students graduating with honors and 36 military personnel or veterans earning their degrees.
President Faith C. Hensrud opened the event by thanking students, family and friends in attendance for supporting each student on their journey to graduation. She congratulated the class of 2020 and recognized the perseverance and grit it took to reach the end of the semester amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Graduating from college is one of the truly monumental milestones in any person’s life. Even in the best of times, it’s an achievement to be celebrated,” she said. “Not only have you reached this milestone, you’ve done so during an entirely unprecedented time as the world responds to COVID-19.”
She went on to assure graduates that Bemidji State plans to hold a traditional 2020 commencement ceremony at a later date and expressed her excitement to do so.
“Like each of you, I wish we had spent this afternoon together in the Sanford Center,” she said. “I wish I could be looking out now at hundreds of you in your caps and gowns, enjoying the energy of your friends, families and loved ones in the audience — with the occasional horn blast from one of your dads or a shoutout from your little brother meant to embarrass you as you walk across the stage. I want to shake your hand, congratulate you, and see how you’ve decorated your cap.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar made a surprise appearance at the virtual celebration.
“Bemidji State is so much more than a place of learning,” she said. “It’s a community. A place where minds are enriched, perspectives are expanded and lifelong friendships begin. I know that for many of you it’s been a long journey. Some of you are the first person in your family to graduate from college. Some of you have had to balance jobs and families and other responsibilities in order to get your degree. And all of you have had to overcome obstacles to get to where you are today. You’re proof that hard work, persistence and a supportive network can truly change people’s lives.”
She continued to discuss the power of education and its affects on the diversity, innovation and inclusivity of the current generation, including Bemidji State’s Class of 2020.
“You’re graduating from a first-class university at a challenging time…I have no doubt you’re prepared for this,” she said. “I’ve seen your generation’s passion for making our world a better place…I know that you’re ready to take what you’ve learned, to do the very best you can and in the end, because of you, our nation’s future looks brighter.”