FARMINGTON — Before heading out into the world after completing their schooling, graduates of the University of Maine at Farmington were given one last lesson in division by senior class commencement speaker Timothy Grivois on Saturday.

Grivois, a senior from Norfolk, Mass., graduating summa cum laude, urged the graduates to let go of imaginary lines that needlessly divide people and keep them from joining together to support each other.

The 456 students graduating from the university had a full crowd of supporters at Saturday’s commencement ceremony. Parents, family and friends packed the Olsen Student Center parking lot and spread out onto the adjacent lawn and hill to watch the ceremony and celebrate their loved ones’ academic accomplishments.

And the students had academic achievements to be proud of. Around 30 percent of graduating seniors had earned a grade point average above 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, and of those students, 20 graduated summa cum laude or with a GPA above 3.9.

Grivois, who gave his address using notes he pulled from his mortarboard where they were stored, told his fellow graduates that as they seek to distinguish themselves in the future, they should never use their achievements as an excuse or reason to separate themselves from or look down upon their peers.

President Kate Foster, who presided over her first commencement as president at the university, said students should be proud of their degree, which is an achievement no one can take away.

“From now on, forevermore, no matter where you live, what you do, or how you dance, you will be a college graduate,” she said.

Keynote speaker William Wegmen, a multimedia artist best known for his depictions of Weimaraner dogs, told students he was encouraged to pick a more vocational major than painting and had his massive multimedia thesis project condemned as a fire hazard and dismantled. He said he learned from these discouraging moments and eventually found success as an artist.

Graduates Alaina Jacobs, of Caribou, and Chelsea LeBlanc, said they had mixed feelings about their college years being over.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Jacobs.

The two friends said they were thankful the rain, which briefly sprinkled the crowd, had stopped by the time their names were called to receive their diplomas on stage.

Graduate Dennis Burch said he was excited about his degree in outdoor recreation and business, a new major which he thinks will be particularly useful in Maine. Burch said his five years at UMF were “a little more rowdy” than he expected, and while he is excited for the future, he said he is sad to see his college career come to a close.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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