On Sunday, May 1, Finlandia University held its annual Spring Commencement Ceremony honoring 84 graduates in the Class of 2022. There was standing room only in the Hirvonen Hall Auditorium with more than 700 in attendance.
In his greeting, President Johnson opened with Finlandia’s Land Acknowledgment:
“Finlandia University was founded as Suomi College by Finnish Lutheran immigrants in 1896 on land ceded by the Anishnaabe people in the Treaty of 1842. We seek to honor and respect the sacred and enduring kinship of the Anishinaabe people with this land. We reject the ongoing injustices and colonization and bear witness to the dignity of all Indigenous peoples.”
Johnson continued his address by thanking graduates for their perseverance and excelling in their disciplines, their families for their love and support, and Finlandia’s Board of Trustees, faculty and staff for advancing Finlandia’s commitment to accompany the whole student toward a whole life. Johnson also used his greeting to recognize trustee emeritus Ray Hirvonen and family for a legacy of leadership and generosity.
“Finlandia University’s College of Health Sciences bears the name of Ray and Peg Hirvonen in recognition of Ray’s three-plus decades of distinguished trustee and trustee-emeritus service and the extraordinary generosity of his family. We are so grateful to Ray, and to his entire family, for having chosen to live generously with Finlandia for four generations and counting.”
Artsiom “Arty” Puntus spoke on behalf of the Class of 2022 as Student Representative. He addressed his fellow graduates with The Parable of Two Stones, a message on overcoming adversity. Puntus, an international student from Belarus, will be pursuing an OPT program in South Carolina on the medical surgery floor of a Level I trauma hospital after graduation.
Receiving the 2022 Board of Trustees Distinguished Faculty Award was Dr. Richard Gee. In recognition of receiving the award, Gee received a medallion as a symbol of the honor.
The 2022 Commencement Speaker was Vance Blackfox. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a graduate of Lutheran higher education, Blackfox enlarged upon Johnson’s opening address regarding Finlandia’s Land Acknowledgment.
“The conversation must continue, here in this place, this very special place that has come to be known as Finlandia University – producing quality, educated, lovely, beautiful, faithful people. You are going out in the world, once again, to make an even greater impact on those they come in contact with, build relationship with, serve and love out in the world. And so I look forward to hearing the story of Finlandia as they continue the conversation and determine what’s next beyond that Land Acknowledgment, and I hope to be a part of those conversations because they are exciting ones indeed.”
Blackfox thanked the soon-to-be graduates and audience members for the opportunity to share his story and left a message to all.
“I hope that in all that you do, that in all the stories I hear about you, that you will be kind. Kind to Mother Earth, kind to your relatives, kind to your neighbors, and kind to yourself.”
To watch the on-demand video recording, view and download the commencement program, view photos of the event & more, visit finlandia.edu/gradution.Tags: Alumni, Artsiom Puntus, Arty Puntus, baccalaureate, Board of Trustee's Distinguished Faculty Award, Board of Trustees, Campus News, Commencement, Criminal Justice, Distinguished Faculty Award, Dr. Richard Gee, graduation, Hirvonen Auditorium, Hirvonen Hall, parent news, Philip Johnson, Ray Hirvonen, student news, Suomi College of Arts & Sciences, Vance Blackfox