Congrats, UM-Dearborn Wolverines!

May 3, 2021

Thousands safely gathered on campus to celebrate the UM-Dearborn Class of 2020 and Spring Class of 2021 through 12 smaller ceremonies that took place April 29 through May 4.

Spring 2021 CECS Master of Science in Human-Centered Design & Engineering graduate Hyunjoo Park walks to the stage to get recognized for her achievement. Photo/Austin Thomason
Spring 2021 CECS Master of Science in Human-Centered Design & Engineering graduate Hyunjoo Park walks to the stage to get recognized for her achievement. Photo/Austin Thomason
Spring 2021 CECS Master of Science in Human-Centered Design & Engineering graduate Hyunjoo Park walks to the stage to get recognized for her achievement. Photo/Austin Thomason

During the past week, three expressions were frequently shared during UM-Dearborn Commencement Ceremonies and throughout campus’ social media channels:  “Go Blue!” “Congratulations.” “It’s actually happening.”

After a year-long hiatus, in-person commencement has returned. And no matter the weather — rain, wind or sun — UM-Dearborn graduates walked with a Go Blue! pep in their step across the commencement stage during a series of celebrations from April 29 through May 4. 

Brittany Kmita, a 2020 graduate, had a cap and gown matching black umbrella to keep her dry as the rain poured down during the campus’ first ceremony on April 29. The communications specialist joked, “I graduated — again. Except this time, I walked across a stage COVID-style in the pouring rain.” 

She said even April showers couldn’t hold her back. Kmita was happy to be back on campus, see friends and be publicly recognized for her educational milestone.

Thousands safely gathered on campus to celebrate the UM-Dearborn Class of 2020 and Spring Class of 2021 through 12 smaller ceremonies. 

Over the past week, graduates and their two guests were seated outdoors in social-distanced pods of three where they were greeted with The Victors music, crowd cheers and well wishes.

The Class of 2020 was honored on April 29 and 30, College of Engineering & Computer Science 2021 graduates were recognized on May 1, College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters Class of Spring 2021 turned their tassels on May 2, the College of Business 2021 grads walked across the stage on May 3, and the College of Education, Health, & Human Services graduates were celebrated on, May 4.

The college deans hosted their respective college ceremonies. UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sue Alcock also addressed the students, alternating the 12 events. U-M Regent Sarah Hubbard, 2021 student speakers Lena Hakim (2021) and Cecilia Olvera (2020) delivered their remarks via video. Live stream commencement remarks and photo albums are viewable on the UM-Dearborn Facebook page.

”Students, we recognize your challenges and the less than traditional path you were forced to take to get here today,” said CASL Dean Marty Hershock, speaking to an audience of approximately 400 at the 11 a.m. May 2 ceremony. “Although we are separated into many groups, we are still united in celebrating your many achievements.”

Provost Alcock added, “You are superb examples of some of UM-Dearborn’s defining characteristics — grit, determination, and the will to get any job done and done very well. There is no way that the pandemic would defeat you. I know you will carry those vital habits of mind and heart with you as you move onward, forward and into the bright futures that you have ahead.”

Many more supporters of UM-Dearborn’s Wolverines tuned in from around the world — writing messages of congrats in Arabic, English, Spanish and emoji icons— through comments on live streamed videos of each ceremony. 

Messages to the new Wolverine alumni included: “So incredibly proud! Screaming for you from Facebook live.” “Felicitaciones por tu Graduación.” AndCongrats, everyone, on driving through the last mile over the last year and a half. So proud of you!”

Commencement Speaker Poet and Social Justice Advocate Nikki Giovanni has shared her poetry on UM-Dearborn’s campus previously, but, for COVID safety reasons, she joined via video in her remarks to graduates. She shared a poem she wrote for the ceremonies and gave a Commencement address about the importance of using time responsibly and wisely.

”I’d like to live 10 more years if I can. But I don’t control my time. I only control what I do with my time,” said Giovanni, 77. “And I’m hoping you control what you do with your time. That you use it, and yourself, wisely. That you learn to appreciate yourself and the people who love you wisely. I wish you all the best and congratulations to all of you.”

After the ceremonies, students celebrated by taking photos with family around campus, small gatherings at their home, and showing their “Go Blue!” pride. 

Class of 2021 graduate Emily Piestrak — who woke up to a sign-decorated front yard on graduation day — took photos after her Sunday ceremony on the UM-Dearborn campus and at U-M’s Crisler Center, which is where the spring class ceremony traditionally is held. She wanted to experience both what could have been if there wasn’t a pandemic — and what took place despite of one. 

“Even though graduation was different this year, it feels right having it at UM-Dearborn. It was good to see professors and friends that I haven’t seen in person for more than a year,” she said. “I like that we finished where we started.”

Before graduates went off into their different directions, Chancellor Grasso reminded the new alumni that no matter their location, they will always be Michigan Wolverines. And that campus will always remember the challenges they overcame to get to this moment.

“Although we are in small groups, it’s wonderful to be able to see everyone and celebrate your accomplishments in person. The effort and commitment you have demonstrated over the past year to graduate is something that will leave a lasting imprint on our university,” he said. “Welcome to the 630,000-strong Michigan alumni family. Forever Go Blue and Go Dearborn.”

Congratulations to all of UM-Dearborn's graduates! Story by Sarah Tuxbury. If you or your family members would like to be identified in posted photos, please reach out to stuxbury@umich.edu.

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