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Kennedy to UND grads: 'May the force be with you'

UND undergraduate students wait their turn to cross the stage during Friday's commencement ceremony at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. (Photo by Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald)1 / 2
Heather Schuler receives her Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and new art media from UND President Mark Kennedy during Friday's commencement ceremony at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. (Photo by Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald) 2 / 2

With all the pomp and circumstance befitting the occasion, UND students received their diplomas this week for winter commencement.

UND President Mark Kennedy said Friday at the undergraduate ceremony in the Chester Fritz Auditorium that more than 850 total students were eligible for graduation this winter. Commencement was split into three ceremonies, the first of which was held Thursday for the university's graduate students. Undergraduates walked across the stage of the Fritz in two Friday afternoon events divided between academic colleges.

For the second year running, Kennedy's winter commencement speech had a "Star Wars" theme timed with the release of a new film for the franchise. This year, he plugged the school's new branding slogan—leaders in action—as a direct link to movie, which is called "The Last Jedi" in reference to the series' near-mystic heroes.

Surely, Kennedy reasoned, the new film's sequels already announced to be in the works would require there to be more Jedis waiting in the wings. So what would these Jedis be like?

"Let me suggest they be called 'leaders in action,' " Kennedy said, listing the ways in which UND students and graduates were Jedi-like in their ability to navigate the world and impact those around them. Before the students walked the stage to receive their diplomas, they received a sign-off in fitting with that cinematic bend.

"May the force be with you," Kennedy said, "as you move forward and unlock the opportunity that is yours to capture."

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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