GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella at a podium for the December virtual grad celebration

Prepared for the next journey: Virtual graduate celebration recognizes class of 2020

Graduation is an exciting time worthy of a celebration.

While the celebration this year was different than those that came before it, the achievements are just as significant and deserve to be honored. 

More than 1,800 Grand Valley students were recognized virtually December 11 for earning their degrees. A virtual graduate celebration was held on the university’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. More than 1,400 people tuned in to watch. 

President Philomena V. Mantella began the celebration with a thank you to the students, faculty and staff members for their hard work throughout the Fall 2020 semester, as photos of the graduates were displayed across the screen.

Mantella commended the graduates for navigating the world, especially during current challenges, and finding opportunities for growth. 

“This will serve you well throughout your lifetime when you are faced with a choice. A choice to see circumstances as challenges or as opportunities.

"You are ready to use your Grand Valley experience, community and degree to achieve your next dream and next accomplishment,” Mantella said. 

Maria Cimitile, provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, said the graduates' completion of their degrees is not a sign they are finished, but they are prepared for what comes next. 

“You are prepared for life,” Cimitle said. “I am encouraged by the confidence with which you faced challenges and the growth you experienced that will follow you into your next venture.”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who uncovered the effect that lead in Flint's water system was having on children, was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Public Service. She encouraged the graduates to speak up to help inspire change, and see her story as a playbook for hope. 

“We do not have to accept the status quo,” Hanna-Attisha said. “I urge you to use the tools you earned at Grand Valley State University and the tools you will continue to acquire to keep your eyes open, remain curious and always use your voice for good.” 

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Service during the virtual Graduate Celebration.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Service during the virtual Graduate Celebration.
Image Credit: Valerie Hendrickson

Paige Gadbois, a graduate, and Elise Alvaro, a junior, performed “For Good” from Wicked the Musical

In her closing remarks, Mantella said the celebration, albeit different, was rich with gratitude for shared experiences, and promise for what is yet to come. 

“We are changed by our time together,” Mantella said.  

Following congratulatory messages from each of the eight college deans, the names of the graduates were listed. Several text and video messages from faculty and staff members were also shared during the celebration. 

A virtual yearbook has been created for the class of 2020. Graduates can log in here and answer prompts that will populate their yearbook page. The page can then be shared on social media.

For more information about the graduate celebration, visit gvsu.edu/commencement.

Paige Gadbois, a graduate, and Elise Alvaro, a junior, perform “For Good” from Wicked the Musical.
Paige Gadbois, a graduate, and Elise Alvaro, a junior, perform “For Good” from Wicked the Musical during the December 2020 virtual Graduate Celebration.
Image Credit: Valerie Hendrickson