WILLISTON, N.D. – Williston State College will celebrate its graduating students for the 2022-2023 academic year this Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 with two of its most anticipated events. 

On Thursday, May 11, Williston State College will hold a pinning ceremony to honor Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) students. The Nursing Pinning Ceremony will be held in the Skadeland Gymnasium at 7:00 p.m. A total of 24 Practical Nurses and 26 ADN students will be graduating. 

“Nursing continues to be a career in which there is a high demand across the nation as well as in North Dakota,” said Gail Raasakka, Dakota Nursing Program WSC Nursing Coordinator. Raasakka went on further to add, “We, as WSC faculty, have watched these students grow into professionals who have worked hard to achieve their goals no matter what obstacles may have stood in their way. The rigor of nursing school is daunting and overwhelming at times and yet these graduates persevered. We, as faculty, couldn’t be any prouder and are so excited to see where their nursing careers take them.” 

WSC’s Sixty-Second Commencement ceremony will follow on Friday, May 12, 2022, in The Well at 10:00 a.m. where State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) Member, Danita Bye will speak. In addition to SBHE Member Bye’s commencement speech, Alex Sims and Malte Kuhn will be the student speakers. 

“We are anticipating awarding 333 degrees to 243 individuals, spanning across 13 academic programs offered here at WSC,” explained Remington Herman, Registrar and Research Analyst at WSC. “This achievement represents not only our student’s individual successes, but the success of our institution. Of those 243 individuals, 189 will be participating in the graduation ceremony. The achievements of these students are remarkable; we are filled with pride and are so excited to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Herman. 

Graduates from WSC often earn more than one degree. These awarded degrees include: 155 Associate in Arts or Associates in Science, 118 Associates of Applied Sciences, 50 Certificates, and 10 Certificates of Completion. 

Of the 333 students anticipating graduation, nearly 54% received either the Williams or Regional County Scholarships. In addition to degrees, six recognition groups will be recognizable with designated stoles and/or cords: 

  • Honor students (3.5 or higher GPA) will be recognized with gold tassels. 
  • Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), WSC's honor society, will wear gold stoles. 
  • Student Senators, student liaisons to college administration, staff, faculty, and alumni, will wear green and white cords. 
  • Veterans will be recognized with red, white, and blue cords. 
  • Teton LEAD students have completed 40 hours of service learning during the academic year and will also be recognized in the commencement program. 
  • FBLA Collegiate Chapter receives navy and gold cords. 

This year a new tradition will begin at WSC, that of a commencement mace. The use of ceremonial commencement maces dates to the Middle Ages when church officials employed them as a symbol of authority. In the fourteenth century, universities adopted the use of a mace as a symbol of their power and authority. Today, many colleges use a ceremonial commencement mace in their graduation ceremonies. Typically, the maces are adorned with emblems and symbols that signify the institution’s values and accomplishments. During the graduation procession, they are frequently carried by a designated official, such as the university president, tenured or distinguished faculty member. 

WSC Mace
WSC Mace

attachment-Commencement Mace

WSC Mace

“Graduations are events worthy of commemoration and should include pomp & pageantry. A collegiate tradition that dates to medieval universities is the presentation of the school’s mace during graduation ceremonies and other important school functions. It is a symbol of the power to bestow degrees and honors,” stated Associate Professor Richard Stenberg. WSC’s commencement mace was made by Associate Professor of English Kirby Lund. WSC’s mace is steeped in many organic and symbolic references to the institution and the region. The mace is made from black walnut and aspen lumber. Black walnut is often viewed as a traditional formal wood because of its dark color, but the lighter wood is a species of Aspen, which is a native tree to North Dakota. “The mace committee found that it was important to have North Dakota represented in the actual material that made up the mace,” said Lund. Some of the other symbols included are the mace head, which has four aspen columns, each representing WSC’s Mission Statement: “Affordable, Accessible, Life-Long, LifeChanging education.” The arches of the mace evoke the arches of the front of Stevens Hall. The top of the mace includes two medallions. One is WSC’s medallion that represents the institution, with the WSC official seal. The other is a Jefferson Peace Medal. “By putting these medallions on opposite sides of one another, we have a motif of looking forward to how WSC will grow and progress while simultaneously looking back to our history with indigenous people in North Dakota’s history,” stated Lund. The stand that houses the mace was built by Welding Instructor Tim Delorme. The steel for the stand was cut by a CNC plasma cutter in the Western Star Building on the WSC campus. Delorme fabricated the mace using a wire-feed welder before having it powder-coated in a classic “Teton green” color. 

A BBQ, sponsored by the WSC Foundation, will be held for graduates, alumni, families, and friends, in the Skadeland Gym, on the WSC campus, immediately following the ceremony. Media are invited to attend the Commencement ceremony on Friday.

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