Nearly a thousand members of Bemidji State University’s Class of 2014 gathered in front of a packed house of friends and family at the university’s 95th Commencement ceremony at Sanford Center.
Bemidji State’s Class of 2014 included:
• 75 master’s degree recipients. BSU awarded two master of arts degrees, 11 masters of education, 48 master of sciences, and 14 masters of special education;
• 210 undergraduates who graduated with honors, including 41 Summa Cum Laude honorees, 88 Magna Cum Laude honorees and 81 Cum Laude honorees;
• 946 students who were eligible to receive undergraduate degrees, including 94 bachelor of arts recipients, 5 bachelor of fine arts recipients, 795 bachelor of science recipients, and 25 bachelor of applied science recipients; and
• 27 students who were eligible to receive associate’s degrees.
The practice of recognizing outstanding academic achievement with Cum Laude honors dates to the earliest European college and university practices in the 13th century. Summa Cum Laude denotes graduates with cumulative grade point averages of 3.90 or higher; Magna Cum Laude recognizes those with GPAs between 3.70 and less than 3.90; and Cum Laude recognizes those with GPAs between 3.50 and less than 3.70.
Dr. Richard A. Hanson, president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, addressed the graduates and shared stories of success by students of the Class of 2014 who all reflected a similar group of traits.
“Stories like these are what it’s all about,” Hanson said. “Students like these embody the characteristics we see and need every day — possibility, preparation, persistence and passion. Those four words equal leadership.”
Hanson thanked the faculty for their work in helping these students achieve their educational dreams.
“Thanks to them, these students are ready to enter the world,” he said.
Dr. Alex Cirillo, a trustee on the board of directors for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, also addressed the graduates.
“You will always share a common bond,” Cirillo said to the graduates. He said the graduates’ college education was a “characteristic of American life and an endowment from the people of Minnesota,” and he challenged them to be leaders in their fields, contribute to the quality of life in Minnesota, the nation and the world, and to support those who want a brighter future for themselves.
“Many people feel commencement is the end of your connection to BSU,” he said. “But in reality you’ll be carrying this connection to Bemidji State University with you wherever you go.”
BSU Student Senate co-presidents Kari Cooper and Jenna Long also addressed the graduates.
“Everyone in this room should feel empowered by this experience,” Cooper said. “Remember the friends you have made; remember the first time you felt you were exactly where you were supposed to be. Take these feelings and get excited about the possibilities ahead of you.”
2014 Distinguished Minnesotan
Trudy Rautio, CEO of Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies and a 2007 Bemidji State University Outstanding Alumni honoree, was recognized as the 32nd recipient of Bemidji State’s Distinguished Minnesotan award and delivered this year’s commencement address.
Rautio challenged the Class of 2014 to imagine — to imagine what might be possible and imagine what their futures might hold. She recounted her own tale as a 1975 BSU graduate from International Falls, illustrating how her willingness to imagine, to be open to all possibilities and experiences, and to work hard led her from Bemidji to a position as CEO of a multi-billion dollar global enterprise.
“Take advantage of every opportunity you have to experience new things,” she said. “Ask for every opportunity to observe or to join; you can learn a tremendous amount from situations where you don’t have the pressure to perform. Be open to new ideas and new experiences, be prepared to work really hard and be true to your values.”
She also challenged the graduates to look to the experiences of BSU’s alumni for inspiration as they looked to their futures.
“You have worked really hard to get here today,” she said. “You have received a quality and competitive education. I have met many outstanding alumni from BSU; if you have not read their stories, you should. Their incredible accomplishments will inspire you to reach the limitless possibilities ahead of you.”