M State honors graduates with June 25 video celebration

May 27, 2020

While COVID-19 disrupted the traditional pomp and circumstance of graduation, it won’t deter M State from celebrating the 724 graduates in its Class of 2020.

Graduates, family members and friends are invited to “attend” the premier of an online M State graduation celebration at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 25.

“While we couldn't hold traditional on-campus graduation ceremonies this spring, M State wants to honor, celebrate and acknowledge the Class of 2020,” said Shawn Anderson, the college’s dean of student affairs. “Many of our students have juggled competing priorities and had their lives turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic, but they persevered to complete their degrees.”

The video celebration will include submitted photos and quotes from this year’s graduates, along with a performance of “Sisi ni moja (We are one)” by members of the M State Concert Choir, under the direction of M State choral instructor Laura Quaintance and accompanied and edited by music instructor David Stoddard.

“Through Zoom meetings, online rehearsals, and audio and video submissions, students recorded their individual parts from the safety of their homes,” Quaintance said. “M State music faculty edited the work to create this virtual performance of a fitting message amidst the time: Though we were apart, ‘we are one.’”

In addition to student submissions and the vocal performance, the celebration will include brief remarks by M State President Carrie Brimhall and the college’s vice president of academic and student affairs, John Maduko, along with greetings from Minnesota’s U.S. senator, Amy Klobuchar, and diplomat, educator and author Patrick Mendis. Mendis, a Perham High School graduate who attended M State in 1984, recently completed a term representing the U.S. State Department at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In mid-June, graduates will be mailed a “virtual celebration package” with items including their official diploma and a padded diploma cover. An online Class of 2020 Celebration program will be posted on the M State website and can be saved or printed.

More details and a link to the celebration will be available on the college website at https://www.minnesota.edu/class-of-2020, where the video will continue to be available after June 25.

“We hope the M State community will come together and recognize these students,” Brimhall said. “Graduating from college is always a great accomplishment, and this year it’s an even bigger accomplishment. M State staff and faculty are so very proud of all our graduates.” 

The celebration is not a replacement for a traditional graduation ceremony: In a survey earlier this spring, graduates shared the importance of having the opportunity to walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. Members of M State’s Class of 2020 will have the chance to do just that during a future graduation ceremony in December 2020 or May 2021.