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Con-grad-ulations!: Cheers, confetti accompany DSU commencement

Shaelyn Sullivan celebrates with friends and loved ones following DSU's 2017 Fall Commencement ceremony, where she earned her degree in exercise science and dance. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)1 / 2
DSU's graduates wore caps, gowns and big smiles as they were honored at the 2017 Fall Commencement Ceremony at DSU on Friday. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)2 / 2

Dickinson State University's fall commencement on Friday honored close to 90 graduates in a ceremony in the Dorothy Stickney Auditorium, which saw lots of cheers, some tears and more confetti than expected.

"I feel pretty ecstatic, I'm not gonna lie. I'm finally done," said Amber Thoney, a triple major in business administration, accounting and finance.

Relief was the refrain from all of the graduates, who celebrated their scholastic success after the commencement ceremony by hugging loved ones, posing for pictures and looking forward.

"I'm just super relieved," said Chad Mackay, who got his degree in computer technology management. "Glad to be done with class and everything, but the thing I'll miss the most is being around the people, all these great people I like being around."

Mckenzie Reisenauer, who earned a bachelor's degree in science, accounting and business administration, said she will miss her teachers the most.

"Definitely the teachers, (they are) the best teachers I've ever had," she said. "I'll miss the social aspect, but not the homework, definitely not the homework."

This marks the second year Thomas Mitzel has been president of Dickinson State University, and he said he feels he has grown with this current crop of graduates.

"I've known the students from before, but this is a class I've sort of grown with and I knew more students in this graduating class than any other," he said. "Looking at the crowd, we had educators, nurses, business people and as I said they are entering a world right now that is changing faster than any time in human history."

Mitzel is optimistic about these graduates.

"The excitement and the exuberance that they've been showing ... I think we're going to see a lot of society leaders coming out of this group," he said.

Shaelyn Sullivan, who earned a degree in exercise science with a minor in dance, clutched a bouquet of flowers and hugged loved ones and relatives after the ceremony.

"I've absolutely loved dance and with that just came a passion for the physical body and how to work with people. I'm really excited to help people better themselves," she said. ""I got really close to a couple of professors. I'm definitely going to miss them, but it was an awesome experience and I just want to thank everyone who got me here."

Now that it's all done, though, what's going through her head?

"Thank goodness I'm done," she said with a laugh. "No more. Let me sleep, please."

The crowd was enthusiastic in cheering on the graduates. At one point, as the graduates came up one by one to receive their diplomas and handshake, a burst of noise rang out from the upper balcony, and confetti rang down, eliciting a few surprised gasps from the audience. Noise makers and general frivolity followed several students as they were honored on stage.

The student speaker was Braeton Erhardt, who earned a bachelor's degree in education. She is a math teacher at Mandan High School and lives in Center, North Dakota.

"Some of the most important lessons I have learned, during my time as a DSU student, is the value of relationships," Erhardt said in her speech. "

This commencement comes as DSU looks forward to its centennial year next year. Mitzel said during and after the commencement ceremony that the first classes for DSU were held in June 1918 in the former Elks Building downtown.

"We had 104 students in the entering class," he said. "Now we tend to have 500 students."