BILLINGS — Montana State University Billings launched a virtual commencement ceremony on its website Saturday, recognizing graduates who had completed their studies between the summer of 2019 and Fall of 2020.
The ceremony was previously scheduled to be held in-person at MetraPark on Saturday, but was shifted to a virtual format after an order was issued by the Yellowstone County health officer in October that limited the size of group gatherings to 25 people.
"I wish we could have gathered together in person to celebrate this incredible milestone at MetraPark and to take full advantage of the range of accomplishments that you have made with the appropriate pomp and circumstances. But we gather here virtually to formally confer your degrees. That in itself is an important moment for each of you, for MSU Billings and for our region, state and nation," said Rolf Groseth, interim chancellor for MSUB in his recorded statement.
The ceremony was broken up into separate video clips hosted on the university's web site. They will be available to view until December 31. MSUB didn't provide the total number of graduates who were recognized in the ceremony but students graduated from the college's five divisions of education, liberal arts, health professions, business and City College.
Each student's name was read aloud and displayed on screen to commemorate their hard work and achievement. Students who graduated in the ceremony received their degrees during the tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students sometimes experienced classes that made the switch to online learning at a moments notice along while still keeping up with their studies during the pandemic.
Associated Students of MSU Billings President Savannah Merritt acknowledged the tough academic year in her recorded statement.
"College is hard and this year and this year was harder than we ever could have imagined, but we overcame every obstacle that was thrown our way and that's why we're celebrating today," Merritt said.
Keynote speaker for the virtual ceremony was Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas who serves 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was born and educated in Montana. Sidney received his undergrad degree at Montana State University and graduated with honors from the University of Montana School of Law in 1978.
Sidney has two sons who attend MSUB, one of whom was graduating in the virtual ceremony. He offered a bit of advice to the graduates.
"Commit yourself to excellence in everything that you do. Take on the hard tasks. If you're given a lousy job, do it well. It will pay rewards over your entire life. Three, you need to learn emotional intelligence. Keep your respect for others. Remember that your life and your actions, large or small, have a great impact on others. Let that be a positive one," Sidney said.
Click here to find links to videos for the entire ceremony on MSUB's web site.