Bemidji State University Celebrates 100th Commencement Ceremony
100 years ago, Bemidji State University was celebrating its first graduating class of four people. Today, more than 1,200 walked across the stage to receive their degrees.
Bemidji State University’s class of 2019 marks 100 years of education, growth, and changes.
“Students go through so many changes in life and these changes in life are what helps shape us and make us who we are today,” says Elizabeth Thurlow, a BSU Nursing graduate and this year’s commencement speaker.
Thurlow was originally planning to join the military, but then life events changed her path. She’s graduating from Bemidji State as a nursing major and already has a job lined up with Essentia Health down in Brainerd.
Thurlow says about her time at BSU, “I love it every single moment. I’m very happy and I’m excited that I’m able to be the student commencement speaker today and just being able to know that, in my heart, BSU was truly the best decision ever.”
Graduate student Ashley Locklear first started at BSU in 2011. She took a break after getting her bachelor’s, than she returned to get a master of science. She’s hoping to start her own non-profit one day.
Locklear says, “My biggest takeaway from this is just showing my daughters that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it. I’m really excited that they get to share this day with me today.”
The graduates weren’t the only ones who are going through changes. After 29 years of teaching at BSU, Professor of English Brian Donovan is retiring. He commemorated his last commencement by canoeing across Lake Bemidji. He started at BSU and ended at the Sanford Center.
Donovan says, “This place is called baygemitchiimak, which means where the root crosses diagonally, and the root in question is a canoe root if you’re following the missazebee down stream, you’ll enter this lake steer northwest to get to the outlet, and that gave the lake its name.”
Donovan says he hopes to live his retirement days out by the lake – that way, he can continue to do what he loves.
“One of the leisure activities I enjoy is canoeing, and I’m going to have a bit more leisure now that I’m retiring,” says Donovan.
Change is inevitable for the people who called BSU their home. For many, they’ll take the lessons they learned with them on future journeys.
“Sometimes it gets really hard and you don’t feel like you can do it, but when you’re surrounded by the best advisors and other students who are trying hard, they really inspire you to continue to move forward,” says Locklear.
Northwest Technical College also had their graduation ceremony today. More than 200 students celebrated the completion of their certificates, diplomas and degrees at NTC.