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UMD's 2018 Commencement

April 23, 2018

With Pomp and Circumstance... and former Mayor Don Ness.

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, thousands of Bulldogs are receiving their diploma at Amsoil  Arena, 350 Harbor Drive.

Two UMD commencement ceremonies are scheduled. The first, at 10 a.m., is for graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and the Swenson College of Science and Engineering. The second, at 3 p.m., is for College of Education and Human Service Professions, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, and School of Fine Arts grads.

Students start to line-up in Pioneer Hall an hour before their graduation ceremony. As they pass their professors in the hallway leading to Amsoil Arena, high fives, cheers, and hugs erupt.

The commencement ceremonies will open with the MA'IIN'GAN Singers, a traditional Ojibwe Drum group. The UMD Symphonic Wind Ensemble will accompany the graduates.

There are 2,245 total UMD graduates. 1,995 undergraduate, 238 master, and 12 doctoral students graduating from UMD this spring.

2018 Commencement Speakers

Don NessFormer Duluth mayor, UMD grad, and Bulldog Hockey superfan Don Ness will be the commencement speaker at both ceremonies. "UMD holds a special place in my heart. It's an honor to help celebrate the accomplishments of this year's graduating class," he says.

Don Ness is now the executive director of the Ordean Foundation. Established in 1933, the Ordean Foundation has a long, proud heritage of addressing issues of poverty in Duluth.   

Don served for 16 years in elected leadership, culminating with a 91 percent job approval rating in his role as mayor of Duluth. During this time, he was honored with the titles of both Twin Cities Business Person of the Year and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Business Person of the Year.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, majoring in business administration and economics, and he earned a Masters in Management from the College of St. Scholastica. Prior to his tenure as mayor, he was the campaign manager for Congressman Jim Oberstar for nearly 10 years.

Don’s core values include a deep dedication to his family, and an ongoing spirit of service to his community. He and his wife Laura continue to live in Duluth with their three children: Ella, James, and Owen.

Student Speakers

10 a.m. ceremony

Anna Jensen
College of Liberal Arts and Labovitz School of Business and Economics

As a freshman, Anna Jensen joined the University Honors program and was on UMD’s track team. In her sophomore year, the Hermantown native hung up her track shoes and studied abroad in England, taking classes at Oxford Brookes University.

Knowing she wanted to become a lawyer, Anna pursued numerous opportunities at UMD to learn more about the field. She joined the Pre-Law Club and served in a variety of positions. She was the secretary of the Political Science Association. She served as a defense attorney and club secretary for the Mock Trial Team. “Getting involved with all of these organizations proved to me that I was on the right path,” she says. Anna also held an internship at WisDOT for two years.

A personal connection to the immigration question transformed into an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program project as well as her University Honors capstone project. She presented her research regarding immigration’s effects on the U.S. economy at the Midwest Economics Association and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.

After graduation, Anna will be taking the LSAT. She also hopes to publish her research. Once she graduates from law school, Anna plans to practice business law.

3 p.m. ceremony

Michaela Hesse
College of Education and Human Service Professions

On UMD’s Track and Field team, Michaela Hesse holds the school record for the Distance Medley Relay. Going the distance – fast – is the perfect metaphor for her undergraduate career; she completed her degree in three years.

The Sebeka, Minnesota, native was mentored by her high school speech pathologist which led Michaela to UMD’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. She did research on dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and hopes to present her findings at an upcoming American Speech-Language-Hearing Association conference. She also worked as an American Sign Language Teaching Assistant this year, mentoring new ASL students.

As a sophomore, she was a Welcome Week RockStar. “I loved helping new freshmen settle in during their first week on campus,” she says. The following year, she served as a Welcome Week Team Leader, training and advising new RockStars.

As a scholar-athlete, Michaela has received numerous awards, including the 2018 NSIC Elite 18 Award for Academic and Athletic Excellence and the 2018 Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Award.

This fall, she will attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Michaela hopes to ultimately work in a hospital setting with people who have experienced strokes.

Visit the UMD Commencement website.