Story by Lila Letica, News Editor
This past Saturday afternoon, the Class of 2021 received their diplomas as they walked across the stage in person. The class of 2020’s celebration followed on Sunday. The Aquinas team worked hard to celebrate their graduates as normally as possible, despite still being in the midst of the pandemic.
While graduates missed their supporters being in person to celebrate with them, the event was live streamed on Facebook and YouTube, where you can still find the recording if you missed it! The comments section was flooded with congratulations and heartfelt messages from family and friends. The graduates were surprised as towards the end of the ceremony a video with professors in all departments congratulated them on their big achievement!
The ceremony began with graduate Lucy Dinsmore singing the national anthem with a brass quintet put together by the AQ band program. President Kevin Quinn gave opening remarks quoting St. Thomas Aquinas saying, “The things that we love tell us what we are.” Quinn explained that for these graduates, their time at AQ is what makes them who they have become today.
The recipient of the Monsignor Arthur Bukowski Award this year was Anna Skog, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude. This award recognizes one student per class who embodies Aquinas’ pillars and exemplifies excellence in education and involvement on campus. Special shout out and congrats to her, a former staff writer for The Saint as well!
This year’s speaker was alumni Paul Bee, class of 2006. He commended graduates for their hard work and dedication, especially within the past year. Bee went on to challenge graduates to find their “why” in chasing their future endeavors – professionally and personally. He encouraged graduates to find value in learning and listening to the others, explaining how this helped him find his purpose post AQ.
Finally, he reminded graduates to breathe – everyone ends up where they’re supposed to in their own time. Bee’s speech was heartening and motivating, leaving graduates with a charge towards their future.
Graduates then walked across the stage, fellow peers cheering them on. One of the final send offs was an encouraging prayer from graduate Zach Gonring.
As someone with many graduating friends, this weekend has been a time of reflection – of the past four years at Aquinas – but really the past year. How we have all grown in smaller communities of close knit friends and family who have been our support system in these difficult times. I hope graduates are also looking back, realizing that while the end of their college career looks different than they expected, they still see the love and support that has remained steady throughout and recognize their own spirit for getting them through.
Graduates are beginning to enter a post pandemic world. Aquinas has announced the expectation to return to in person events and classes for the fall semester. Hopefully many will come back and celebrate during next year’s homecoming season. We wish them the best of luck and a restful break before moving on to the next chapter in their lives!