‘Always a Mustang’

At SMSU commencement, 2019 graduates looked to the future, and reflected on their time at the university

Photo by Deb Gau SMSU graduates Bijaya Maharjan, Laxmi Shova Rana Magar, and Sushma Bakhunchhe waited in line for commencement ceremonies to begin on Saturday morning. The three women were each receiving degrees in hospitality management.

MARSHALL — “We call this ceremony a commencement for a reason,” Southwest Minnesota State University President Connie Gores said as she spoke with the university’s 2019 graduating class. Commencement didn’t just mark the end of students’ time at SMSU.

“It’s the start of something new,” she said.

Saturday’s commencement at SMSU looked to the future, but also encouraged students to remember their time at college, and the relationships they made there. Gores reminded new graduates, “Once a Mustang, always a Mustang.”

Commencement speaker Mary Fuhrman urged students to maintain the relationships and connections they’ve made in life.

“It is work. But it is the most important work you will do,” Fuhrman said. Fuhrman, a 1995 SMSU alumna, said building relationships has been a key part of her life, and her career with Hy-Vee, where she is now a senior regional vice president. Her advice to new graduates was to invest in relationships with others.

“Remember these people. Remember the investments they made in you to get you to your point in life,” Fuhrman said.

As SMSU graduates looked ahead to the future on Saturday, they also had positive reflections on their time at the university. Graduate student Hamid Ullah said the people he met at the university were important to him, and experiences like being part of the Enactus student entrepreneurship group. Ullah said he’d remember “Friends, professors, Enactus for sure.”

For Jesse McArdell, Loic Dah and Rachal Albrecht, commencement was part of a continuing pattern. The three graduates were lined up together on Saturday to receive their degrees in political science. But they’d also been in a lot of classes together since their first year at SMSU. That was fun, Albrecht said.

“You’d have someone to sit next to on the first day of class,” she said.

Besides making friends and learning on campus, Dah said he enjoyed completing an internship with the city of Marshall. He’s interested in a career in government.

“For me, it was that confirmation that this is what I want to do,” he said.

As hundreds of soon-to-be graduates got ready for the commencement ceremony Saturday morning, the hallways on campus were filled with people. Alex Knutson posed for some quick photos with family before the official lineup started.

Knutson said he was feeling “Nervous, but excited.” Commencement would be just one big event for him this summer — Knutson said not only was he going to be graduating with a degree in business management, he was also getting married in August.

While commencement did bring out some nervousness, some students, like McArdell, said they were trying to focus on just enjoying the day.

“We can look forward to all the stress of life later,” he said.