Parents, grandparents, spouses and kids filled Marcus Pavilion at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey on Saturday for the Class of 2017’s commencement ceremony.
Here’s what you need to know about the class:
1. It was made up of 485 students, including 114 who finished their programs in December. About 400 students participated in the commencement ceremony.
Many of the graduates gathered near the steps by Old Main before the event, where they posed for photographs and visited with classmates.
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“It hasn’t really hit me yet that it’s today,” said Brandy Lopez, 23, who received a bachelor of science degree in biology. “We’re done. We’re graduating today.”
2. The most popular major was business for undergraduate students. The most popular graduate degree was Master of Business Administration.
“It was challenging, but I enjoyed it,” said Katy Cordon, 39, of DuPont, who received her MBA.
She said her favorite part of Saint Martin’s was its size, and its small community atmosphere.
“Our professors actually care about us, so you feel that connection versus being at larger schools where you’re just a number,” Cordon said. “Everybody kind of knows everybody.”
3. There were three co-valedictorians: Tessa Blackstad of Shelton, Hope Chamberlain of Port Angeles, and Taylor Gersch of Sherwood, Oregon, all of whom graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Blackstad earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with an English language learners endorsement and a minor in Japanese. Chamberlain earned dual bachelor’s degrees in English and theater arts with a minor in music. Gersch earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration of marketing and was a member of Saint Martin’s women’s soccer team.
4. The class of 2017 is comprised of students from 35 states and territories and a dozen countries, including China, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
“We’ve got a diverse group,” said Leslie Washko, 65, of the Vancouver-area who earned her MBA. “We’ve got people from all over the world.”