Grand Valley celebrates 100,000th graduate

Dale Boedeker and his family.
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Dale Boedeker and his family.
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No one was more surprised to be named the 100,000th student to graduate from Grand Valley State University than the graduate himself, Dale Boedeker. 

The milestone was celebrated at the university’s afternoon commencement ceremony April 25 at Van Andel Arena. More than 3,000 students walked across the stage during the ceremonies.

“I couldn’t believe it at first; I was in shock,” said Boedeker, a native of the state of Wyoming. “I was waiting for someone to say ‘just kidding, you’re being punked,’ but it was real!” 

Family members, including ones who traveled from Wyoming, celebrated with Boedeker after the ceremony when he was presented with a $1,000 check and gear from the Grand Valley Alumni Association. Diane Paton, a 1967 alumna and Grand Valley’s first accepted student, was a part of the celebration. 

As a health communications major and advertising and public relations minor, Boedeker said he plans to remain in Grand Rapids and work for a hospital or health care system.

Grand Valley is celebrating another record-breaking milestone this year with more than 5,600 students expected to receive a degree during the 2014-2015 academic year. 

Michael Jandernoa, former CEO and current board member of Perrigo Company, spoke to graduates during the morning ceremony, and Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, was the afternoon speaker. 

The Alumni Association presented its Distinguished Alumni Award to Noreen Myers, ‘72, and its Outstanding Educator Award to Brad Wallar, associate professor of chemistry. 

David Hecht and Bea Idema received honorary degrees. Hecht, a current trustee for the Grand Valley University Foundation, is president of the Charles W. Loosemore Foundation. He has practiced law for more than 50 years. Idema was among the lead donors for the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley.