2023 UMaine Commencement celebrates over 1,000 students

Commencement was held at Harold Alfond Sports Arena
Students listening to commencement speeches at Harold Alfond Sports Arena in Orono.
Students listening to commencement speeches at Harold Alfond Sports Arena in Orono.(WABI)
Published: May. 6, 2023 at 1:46 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - It’s a beautiful day to be a UMaine Black Bear.

2023 Graduates lined up at Harold Alfond Sports Arena to say ‘see you later’ to the Orono Campus.

A common theme surrounding graduations this year is acknowledging what students have been through, learning and living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You endured remote and hybrid learning, being apart from friends and family, changes in your plans and a very different college experience than you anticipated when you arrived four years ago,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of the University of Maine.

“Those are not insignificant challenges, they are significant yet you remain committed and here you are today.”

Graduates represented those achievements by dressing up their hats and representing who they are with flags.

UMaine’s 2023 Valedictorian wished for her fellow classmates to be proud of who they are, how far they’ve come and the amazing achievements they have ahead of them.

“In a post covid world there’s a lot of pressure to do the perfect thing and act in a certain way and follow all of the trends rather than looking to see who you really are and what you want to do,” said Chern.

The New Hampshire native graduated from high school early and enrolled at UMaine when she was just 16 years-old, so she has an idea of the pressure that new beginnings bring.

During her time at UMaine she’s found what makes her truly happy and wishes nothing but that for her classmates.

When it was time to approach the podium she expressed how those key things make every graduate unique and a true Black Bear.

“From the time we all entered our college in our first year, we’ve been tempted by society to strive for the most accolades, awards and achievements out of our peers,” said Chern.

“We’re told that by doing this we’ll set ourselves up for a successful future. Let us forget our resumes and focus on what truly brings joy in our lives. Congratulations class of 2023 and best of luck on your journey ahead.”

It’s been a long four years for these graduates but nothing could stop them and they can finally say they did it.