Congratulations to the Class of 2021

They spent 30 percent of their college years under COVID.
Posted on May 14th, 2021 by


“No class deserved a perfect day more than the Class of 2021,” said Scott Anderson ’89, chairman of the Gustavus Board of Trustees, as he opened Commencement ceremonies. It was sunny, mid-60s, and yes, gusty.

It was also the largest gathering on campus in 15 months with 466 students receiving baccalaureate degrees seated six feet apart on Hollingsworth Field, plus their two guests each in the stands. Said President Bergman, brimming with joy, “I’m so happy we are here.”

Masks were still required for the event, which created an opportunity for the Class of 2021 to add a custom accoutrement to caps, gowns, and tassels: a mask designed by classmate and art studio major Bryanna Filip ’21. The Alma Mater song was sung not by a senior ensemble, but by soloist Megan Nipe ’21. And in more convention breaking, it all took place on a Thursday.

Classmate Lawrence Hiquiana ’21 represented the Class of 2021 as commencement speaker. He spoke of the difficulty of the abrupt shift to remote learning last spring. “My dog really loved it but it wore me out,” he said. He spoke of the great challenges the class faced head on. The effects of a global pandemic, climate change, and racial injustice were visible around the nation and the world, and viscerally experienced in Minnesota. “The headlines mirrored our textbooks,” Hiquiana said. But passive consumption of headlines does not a Gustie make: “Action is the vehicle for change, and we all have the ability to create action.” His ultimate message was for all of us to remain curious. “You are stardust,” the physics major said. “Let your curiosity shine with the energy of the Big Bang.”

President Rebecca Bergman praised the heroics of faculty who switched from teaching in-person to teaching remotely in a matter of weeks, balancing the collegiate education of the Class of 2021 with students’ safety and wellbeing (as well as their own). Indeed, the biggest cheers of the day were for the Gustavus faculty. Chaplain Siri Erickson praised the Class of 2021 “for their resolve to do what is equitable and just.” She asked for blessings for the new grads, “for wisdom to spark creative change for the common good, to embrace paradox and possibility.”

And before the caps were thrown, President Bergman reminded the Class of 2021 of the extraordinary opportunity they have to fulfill the Gustavus vision to equip students to lead purposeful lives and to act on the great challenges of our time. By persevering through their college years during these historic times, “you already have practice facing great challenge. Remember: You are equipped to lead a purposeful life. You are equipped to act.”

Select photos of the day can be found here. More will be uploaded in the coming days.

The Class of 2020 will return on Sunday for the Commencement ceremony they missed last year due to the pandemic.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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