More than a thousand Umaine students celebrated a milestone achievement on Saturday

Published: May. 6, 2023 at 7:59 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - The university of Maine celebrated over one thousand students who reached the finish line and walked across the stage for the 2023 commencement on Saturday.

This particular graduating class reflected on learning and living through the COVID-19 pandemic and many other hardships the world and nation faced within the past four years.

University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Munday was the first to congratulate the graduating class.

“Today we celebrate your achievements and the beginning of the commencement of the next steps of your journey,” said Ferrini-Munday.

It’s a beautiful day to be a UMaine Black Bear…2023 Graduates lined up early Saturday morning to say ‘see you later’ to the Orono Campus.

“Remote and hybrid learning, being a part from friends and family, changes in your plans and a very different college experience than you anticipated when you arrived four years ago,” Ferrini-Munday said.

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

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

Graduates represented those achievements by dressing up their hats or representing who they are and where they’re from with flags.

And that’s what UMaine’s 2023 Valedictorian Lara Chem wanted for her fellow classmates, for them 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.”

When it was time to approach the podium she expressed how those key things makes every graduate unique, it is what makes every graduate a forever 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. 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, not Covid, not any other struggles the world brought because today, they can say they did it.

Congratulations class of 2023!