On Sunday, Sept. 6, Northwest Nazarene University held its 104th Commencement ceremony, celebrating the graduating class of 2020 while maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions.
Two-hundred and ten traditional undergraduate students and 307 graduate and non-traditional students graduated. This year’s event was hosted at the Idaho Ford Center in Nampa. A limited number of tickets were available to maintain physical distancing between guests. All attendees were required to wear face coverings and the graduates were spaced out on the arena floor.
NNU President Joel Pearsall served as keynote speaker for the Graduate and Professional Studies ceremony. He addressed the noticeable changes to the ceremony, but encouraged everyone to focus on what had remained the same as graduates celebrated this milestone.
“For this is still a ceremony that is steeped in tradition. This is a day when we honor our graduates. Because each of our graduates have accomplished much,” Pearsall said. “You have applied yourselves, you have exercised discipline, you have sacrificed. And now you are joining just a small percentage of Americans who possess an undergraduate or graduate degree.”
Dr. Joe Bankard, professor of philosophy and 2018-19 Professor of the Year, provided the keynote address during the traditional undergraduate ceremony and encouraged graduates to face the challenges of life with love, not fear.
“You can go to any university and get job training. You can go to almost any university and get prepared for a career. But NNU is special because we believe in the transformation of the whole person. We want to see you as men and women developing those traits that are going to allow you to withstand the storms of life,” he said. “And we are in the midst of a storm right now make no mistake ... and what the world needs is men and women like you, men and women of character and integrity and courage, Christ-like followers who are going to respond to the storm, not with fear, not with increased selfishness, not at grabs of power, not at attempts to restore routine. That’s all sand. When the storm comes you are going to feel afraid but what I want is you to have the character that can say ‘I feel afraid and I’m going to respond in love.’ That’s what the world needs.”
The ceremony had previously been scheduled for May 9, but was delayed due to COVID-19 concerns. Recordings of both ceremonies can be found at nnu.edu/commencement.