The pandemic forced a lot of adjustments, but Columbia College found a way to celebrate graduation in person for its entire spring 2021 class on Friday.
Commencement was divided into three very similar ceremonies at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. After each ceremony, the room was sanitized before the next began.
Masks were required, with graduates, faculty and staff seats socially distanced and guests seated in groups with their own family members.
Columbia College President William Bogart and Board of Trustees Chair Tom Keith spoke to all three groups of graduates, while a different faculty member delivered the commencement address for each ceremony.
Mathematics Professor Tyler Brown told graduates that the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” will only lead to repeated failure and frustration, and offered an improved version.
“If at first you don’t succeed, learn from it, change your approach and then try again,” Brown advised.
Organizational Leadership Program Director Katrina Hutchins reminded the graduates that Friday’s ceremonies are not an ending, but a milestone.
“This seat is not my end. It represents my new beginning,” she suggested the graduates tell themselves.
Education Professor Brennan Davis, in the day’s final address, spoke about the importance of kindness, especially the sort that goes above and beyond what is common.
“Extraordinary acts of kindness stay with us. Being kind will feed your soul just as it feeds the souls of those to whom you are kind,” she said. “Kindness changes people for the better. Extraordinary kindness will change the world.”
Following Columbia College tradition, each graduate was also presented with Bibles.