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Chancellor: UW-Eau Claire graduates showed perseverance

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt congratulates a new 2021 graduate with an elbow bump during commencement. (Photo by Bill Hoepner)

Chancellor James Schmidt told University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduates on Saturday that the 2020-21 school year was “an extraordinarily taxing year” that showcased Blugolds’ perseverance and leadership abilities. 

“The past three semesters have challenged us all deeply,” Schmidt said in his virtual message. “Yet, in spite of it all, you’ve persisted and adapted. It hasn’t been easy, I know that, but I’m so proud of the effort and care you demonstrated the past year.”

A total of 1,646 graduates this spring were able to access the virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday morning. Graduating students also could be part of in-person diploma ceremonies on Friday and Saturday on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

In his virtual message, Schmidt told graduates that commencement is about celebration and gratitude on a day intended to show appreciation for the “resonant experiences” they enjoyed during their UW-Eau Claire careers.

“Gratitude for the chance encounters that sparked lifelong friendships and for the ‘lightbulb’ moments in classes,” Schmidt said. “Be grateful to your past self for investing in this kind of well-rounded educational experience. Pursuing a degree from UW-Eau Claire was a choice to be better prepared for the world you’ll encounter as you look to make a difference after graduation.”

Morgan Meyer, who received her bachelor’s degree in organizational communication with a minor in workforce engagement and development, gave the Blugold Reflections during commencement.

The class of 2021 stands united after going through experiences they couldn’t have foreseen when they first stepped onto campus, said Meyer, of Becker, Minnesota.

“No matter how many times you may have doubted whether you would be able to make it through all the uncertainty, changes and confusion, you are here, you’ve done it, you’ve persevered and now today you’re graduating,” Meyer said in her virtual message.

During college, Meyer worked on a project to learn what makes people gritty, which is a combination of passion and perseverance. She said she hopes graduates find “many passions and a healthy dose of perseverance” during their lives.

“Just as we’ve navigated the changes brought to our life from this pandemic with perseverance,” Meyer said, “we must always approach life with this drive to think critically, to show empathy and compassion, and to use our strengths and talents in the best way that we can.”

Schmidt stressed that commencement does not signify the end of graduates’ learning. 

“As we all learned this year, life makes few guarantees, and you can bet you’ll see more change and unexpected surprises in your life,” Schmidt said. “By completing your UW-Eau Claire degrees, you have greatly enhanced your capacity to thrive in any circumstance — even, as it turns out, a global pandemic. Knowing how to learn and grow is a skill with no end.”