UMPI graduates largest class ever in space-themed ceremony

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – The University of Maine at Presque Isle celebrated its largest graduating class ever on Saturday.

About 200 of the 513 graduates attended the university’s 115th commencement as faculty, family and friends filled the gym in Wieden Hall. A video ceremony is planned for June for those who could not attend.

With references to the recent total solar eclipse and the mysteries of the universe,

Speakers urged the new graduates to explore the world around them and broaden their horizons while making the world a better place.

Maine author Cathie Pelletier served as commencement speaker. Thinking about nature and learning about the world a few birds or stars at a time can expand your view of the world, she said, referring to Carl Sagan’s well-known observations of the Earth as a “pale blue dot” in the sky. universe.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Maine author Cathie Pelletier speaks with the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Class of 2024 during the campus’s 115th Commencement on May 4. (Paula Brewer | The Star Herald)

People sometimes have to put technology aside, she said.

‘Switch it off every now and then. Listen to the world. Look around you, she said. “The stars you see at night connect you to history. Knowledge of nature increases your knowledge of yourself.”

Pelletier has written 16 books and received numerous awards, including an unprecedented $1 million advance for her book “Candles on Bay Street,” said campus President Ray Rice.

The soon-to-be graduates marched to “Pomp and Circumstance,” provided by Anatole Wieck, professor of music at UMaine, on violin and Colin Graebert, director of vocal music at Bangor’s John Bapst High School, on piano. The two also performed “Rise Up, Presque Isle,” written by musician and Presque Isle native Ellis Paul.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Anatole Wieck (left), UMaine professor of music, and Colin Graebert, director of choral music at John Bapst High School in Bangor, provide music for the University of Maine at the Presque Isle commencement on May 4. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

The early campus’s first small graduating class of 1903 could not have anticipated how the campus would grow, Rice told the crowd.

“On this most auspicious day, we commend the Class of 2024, which we are humbled to say is our largest graduating class ever, for their dedicated pursuit of their academic goals,” he said.

Emily Cain of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees recalled her Orono eclipse experience at 98 percent of totality. When she saw photos from further north showing 100 percent totality, she was amazed at the difference 2 percent made, she said.

“For most things in life, 98 percent is enough,” Cain said. “You did it – 100 percent of it. Make the most of this one hundred percent effort you have made.”

Donna Lisnik, chair of the local campus board of visitors, along with Lea Allen, professor of English and chair of the faculty meeting, and Kimberly Jones, associate professor of business administration and vice president of the Alumni Association, also spoke.

Rice awarded honorary degrees to Pelletier and David

Following the presentation of diplomas, Alondra Lopez-Aquina, speaker of the Class of 2024, shared her journey from her home in Los Angeles to far northern Maine, and encouraged her fellow graduates to remember that they will always be a family and a place ‘north of the ordinary’. ”, the campus slogan.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – After the ceremonial conferring of degrees, UMPI President Ray Rice wears a “Luke Skywalker” wig and holds a lightsaber, a nod to Saturday, May 4 – which “Star Wars” fans recognize as “May 4th with you” day. Platform guests participate. (Paula Brewer | The Star Herald)

Rice had a special surprise to end the festivities. Saturday was May 4, after all — what “Star Wars” fans know as “May the 4th be with you” day, a twist on the film series’ famous line: “May the Force be with you.”

Rice donned a “Luke Skywalker” wig and grabbed a glowing lightsaber. He and speakers, some wearing character wigs and their own lightsabers, processed as Wieck and Graebert played the “Star Wars” theme.