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KU graduates celebrate finishing college careers that were ‘upended by a global pandemic’

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Last updated at 6:04 p.m. Sunday, May 15:

A stormy morning made way for smiles, champagne and just enough sunshine Sunday afternoon as the University of Kansas graduates of 2022 celebrated all that they’ve accomplished. 

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Thousands of students made their way down Mount Oread, then filed through the Campanile and into David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, most wearings caps or hoods and gowns and representing their schools with colorful tassels.

Some graduates from the classes of 1970 and 1972 were also present, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said. They did not get to walk down the hill for their own commencements. The class of ’70 was once again thwarted because of COVID-19, but the third try was a charm on Sunday.

Cheryl Harrison-Lee, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, addressed the graduates.

“What began as a typical college experience for many of you was completely upended by a global pandemic,” Harrison-Lee said. “The obstacles you faced were especially difficult, yet you endured. Undeterred by the challenges of the pandemic and the new normal that followed, you kept working hard, staying true to your cause, and developing lifelong skills.”

She told them they should be community-conscious, socially conscious, and self-conscious.

“When you do these things, you will position yourself to make a tremendous impact in your chosen profession, in your personal lives, and the lives of others,” she said. “And in so doing you will build a bright future for yourself, for those around you, and build a lifetime relationship with the university.”

“… To the class of 2022: Be bold, but understand your limitations. Seize opportunities, but ask for help. Work hard, but rest as needed,” Harrison-Lee said.

Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System, delivered the commencement address. He encouraged the graduates to do the right thing; “be the bridge” — form bonds instead of barriers in their communities; and to ask questions, seek answers and think critically.

Tammara Durham, KU vice provost for student affairs, and Robert Klein, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the KU School of Medicine, announced the following student award-winners:

Read more about Ahmad Baset Azizi at this link.

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KU graduates find seats at Memorial Stadium. (KU Commencement livestream screenshot)
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times KU graduates take a selfie in their caps and gowns, May 15, 2022.
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times KU graduates pop champagne at commencement.
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August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
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August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
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August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times
August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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