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Boise State honors 2020 graduates, faculty member John Baldwin during a special commencement ceremony

A special in-person commencement ceremony was held May 7 in Albertsons Stadium to honor those graduates whose original commencements were virtual due to the COVID pandemic.

Boise State University Commencement for Class of 2020, John Kelly photo

“It is so great to SEE you,” cheered Dr. Marlene Tromp, university president. “We loved that so many of you celebrated your graduation with us virtually last year, but there’s nothing like being in person. We know that this road had many unexpected twists and turns, yet you dedicated yourself to expanding your mind and opening up your future, and today we celebrate you for this extraordinary success.”

In 2020, 2,785 students were eligible for graduation, qualifying for 3,232 degrees or certificates. Of those, 785 were eligible for honors: 389 cum laude, 311 magna cum laude and 85 summa cum laude. In addition, 53 doctoral degrees were conferred in 2020.

Over 900 graduates returned to campus for the ceremony on the stadium’s iconic blue turf.

Chloe Pampush from Tillamook, Oregon, represented the class of 2020 as student speaker. She emphasized that while the disruption and restrictions of the past year were a significant challenge, the crisis inspired creativity and pushed the limits of what was previously thought possible.

“In less than a year, under incredible constraints, scientists developed multiple vaccines against the coronavirus,” she said. “This previously unheard of feat has given us a glimmer of hope that this will soon be behind us. And I’m sure most of us wish we could just forget about this past year altogether.”

Student speaker Chloe Pampush, Boise State University Commencement for Class of 2020, John Kelly photo

Pampush emphasized that while there is a desire to move past the pandemic, the Class of 2020 should embrace their unique position and perspective.

“My hope for all of us is that we maintain this momentum. View restrictions not as roadblocks, but as guidelines. Question the way things are done and continue to push the limits of possibility to create the kind of world we want to live in.”

The ceremony also honored faculty member John Baldwin, who is retiring from the university’s music department after 50 years of teaching, making him the longest serving employee of Boise State. The university presented Baldwin with a gift of a percussion triangle, an instrument that was the subject of Baldwin’s doctoral dissertation.

In her remarks to the class of 2020, President Tromp urged the graduates to persevere through this period of adversity and to grow to meet future challenges.

“I promise you, there will be hard periods,” she said. “You saw them during the course of this pandemic. You are no stranger to difficult times. Remember, graduates, as you set your course to make your unique mark on the world: courage isn’t being unafraid, it is moving ahead, even when you are shaking in your boots.”

Boise State University Commencement for Class of 2020, John Kelly photo

Two additional commencement ceremonies will be held May 8 for the 2021 graduates.