With spring 2020 and winter 2020 Commencement celebrations delayed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Commencement hosted by St. Catherine University multiplied its celebrations to include virtual accolades and an outdoor GradWalk for those graduates able to celebrate on campus.
“We have taken your dreams seriously. We salute your achievements,” said Anita Thomas, PhD, executive vice president and provost at St. Catherine University, in her address during the virtual celebration. “You have honed your ability to seek and attain excellence as students and scholars — we applaud you, and offer you to the world as ethical and just leaders who will use their education to influence change and transform the world, and know that you are Forever St. Catherine.”
Graduates from the College for Women, College for Adults, and Graduate College classes of 2020 and 2021 were all celebrated first in a virtual commencement ceremony broadcast on May 21. Students from each graduating year were invited to deliver their own reflections on what the experiences of completing their degrees during a global pandemic have taught them:
“We deserve to celebrate all that it has taken to reach this milestone: the unbreakable strength in the face of hardship, the fearless pursuit of learning, and the dreams of visionary leaders who forged the paths that we now venture on.” — Alma Silver ’20
“The education we received and the lessons we have learned over the last year has strengthened our ability to bring change and meaning to our lives and communities.” — Elizabeth Hermodson-Olson ’20
“You won’t always have the answer. You won’t always be able to understand others and their experiences. You have no choice but to show up imperfectly, but isn’t that the basis for forming human connections?” — Emily Bendelsmith ’21
“We are resilient, strong, and capable, and as we write our new stories, let us remember to flip back a few pages to our time at St. Kate’s and know that the connections we have here will last a lifetime.” — Ella Graham ’21
On May 21 and 22, all graduates were invited to participate in the first-ever GradWalk — a modified version of the traditional ceremonies held at The O’Shaughnessy. More than 500 graduates reserved a time to walk across a stage set up on the patio of The O’Shaughnessy to have their names and degrees announced, receive their diploma covers, and pose with the President or Provost.
“There is truly no better time for you to go forth in this world, doing your own part to lead, influence, and change our future for the better,” said ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76, president of St. Catherine University, in her virtual address to the graduates. “Your St. Kate’s education has prepared you in ways no other university could to emerge stronger, wiser, and ready to lead.”
Congratulations to our graduates of 2020 and 2021!