In a typical year, commencement is held on either Old Main Lawn or Hutton Arena. The ceremony will be performed off campus this year at the RiverCentre Grand Ballroom, 175 West Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul. To maintain social distance, several ceremonies will be held, with three commencement speakers instead of one. There are instances like this.
Since the class of 2020 was unable to hold a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic, several students feared the same fate would befall the class of 2021. Fortunately, due to the rapid rollout of vaccines and Minnesota Department of Health recommendations, this year’s event will be conducted in person in a smaller format, featuring an inspirational community of students honouring the class of 2021.
Dieu Do, Rose-Marie Athiley, and Sideena Grace will deliver commencement addresses this year.
Athiley has spent the last four years preparing for the opportunity to be the commencement speaker.
“I was still working at the Oracle during my first year, and I interviewed the guy who was the commencement speaker that year, and I felt I should probably do this,” Athiley said. “I’ve been preparing it for four years.”
One of the most important forms she has trained is by extensive engagement on campus.
Including being a RA to working at the Oracle, Hedgemen Center, track and field photographer, and a variety of other jobs, Athiley has done it all. “I’ve touched several different areas at Hamline, so I feel like I was a decent spokesperson who could talk to others in any way.”
It was important for Athiley to understand that the commencement speaker was someone with whom many students had communicated in any way.
Sideena Grace is a senior studying applied physics with a focus on architecture. She is the first African-American woman to receive an advanced physics degree from Hamline University. Her next step will be to attend graduate school at the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and focus on spacesuits. Her advice to the class of 2021 is simple: be the first, but not the last. “I want to be the senior speaker at commencement because I want to be the voice of all backgrounds for the class of 2021: blacks, women, scientists, professors, politicians, creatives, innovators, and justice advocates,” Grace said.
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