74 grads walk in college ceremony
May 19, 2023
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College celebrated this year's graduates at a commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 11, with 74 of this year's 131 graduates walking the stage. Dr. Arne Vainio provided the commencement address, and student speakers included Valerie Zhaawendaagozikwe and Gracee Petersen.
During her welcoming remarks in the Lester Jack Bridges Cultural Center, FDLTCC acting president Anita Hanson honored the former president, the late Stephanie Hammitt.
"Yesterday and this evening were her favorite days of the school year," Hanson said, referring "specifically our events to salute the efforts of our graduating students."
Dr. Arne Vainio, Min No Aya Win Human Services family practice physician, provided the commencement address. During his speech, Vainio discussed the Seven Grandfather Teachings: humility, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect and love.
"Living by these teachings will make your life full and in balance, and these teachings apply to all of us," he said.
2023 Student of the Year Valerie Zhaawendaagozikwe reflected on the struggles that many students experienced during their academic journeys and the struggles that some in the community are still experiencing.
She discussed overcoming struggles of her own to pursue her goals and the importance of being an example for her family: "It's attainable, it's possible, to learn our language, to belong in these places ... it's not just for academics, but for everybody."
Gracee Petersen discussed the many paths her fellow students might take after graduation. "This graduation ... should be looked at as an opening to wherever the future takes you, whether that is a career, trade or continuing your education," Petersen said. "Any career that you choose to pursue matters, whatever you're good at, go ahead and do it."
The Cedar Creek Singers provided the grand entry, honor, and recessional songs. The FDL and Combined Honor Guard presented the flags and Abrianna Schmidt sang the national anthem. The opening pipe ceremony was conducted by FDLTCC Dean of Indigenous and Academic Affairs Roxanne DeLille, and musical numbers were performed by the Oshkii Gizhik Singers and FDLTCC faculty members Calland Metts and Elizabeth Jaakola.
To watch a recording of the ceremony, visit https://fdltcc.edu/fdltcc-celebrates-class-of-2023.
Local Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Class of 2023
Mary Jane Eagle