Williston State College celebrated its graduating students for the 2022-2023 academic year on Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 with two of its most anticipated events.

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

“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, watched these students grow into professionals who worked hard to achieve their goals no matter what obstacles may have stood in their way. The rigor of nursing school was daunting and overwhelming at times, and yet these graduates persevered. We, as faculty, couldn’t be any prouder and were so excited to see where their nursing careers would take them.”

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

WSC Graduation 2023
WSC Graduation 2023


“We anticipated 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 represented not only our students' individual successes but also the success of our institution. Of those 243 individuals, 189 participated in the graduation ceremony. The achievements of these students were remarkable; we were filled with pride and were so excited to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Herman.

Graduates from WSC often earned more than one degree. The awarded degrees included: 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 were recognizable with designated stoles and/or cords: • Honor students (3.5 or higher GPA) were recognized with gold tassels. • Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), WSC's honor society, wore gold stoles. • Student Senators, student liaisons to college administration, staff, faculty, and alumni, wore green and white cords. • Veterans were recognized with red, white, and blue cords. • Teton LEAD students had completed 40 hours of service learning during the academic year and were also recognized in the commencement program. • FBLA Collegiate Chapter received navy and gold cords.

That year a new tradition began at WSC, that of a commencement mace. The use of ceremonial commencement maces dated 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.



“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 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, Life Changing 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.

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