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    During commencement, the University of Southern Maine awards almost 900 degrees.

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    On Saturday morning, the University of Southern Maine awarded almost 900 degrees during its first in-person commencement ceremony in three years. The Cross Insurance Arena in Portland hosted USM’s 142nd commencement ceremony.

    After earning an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered the commencement address at USM. While helping Maine get through the COVID-19 outbreak, university authorities commended his leadership and ability to connect with people.

    Shah bemoaned the kids’ pandemic-affected college experience, which he described as being punctuated by virtual classes and having to spend portions of their college years alone. He applauded USM students, though, for their tenacity, something he said many Mainers gained during the pandemic. Shah predicted that resilience would serve students well as they head in different career directions.
    “One-half, perhaps two-thirds of your college years were spent in the shadow of COVID. That sucks,” said Shah.

    At one point during his speech, Shah asked everyone to stand and take a selfie with their phones. Shah did the same, posting his selfie on Twitter where he urged graduates to make Maine proud.

    USM was just one of several University of Maine System campuses that held commencements Saturday. Commencements were also held at the University of Maine in Orono and campuses in Farmington, Presque Isle and Fort Kent. The University of Maine at Machias held its commencement Friday and the University of Maine at Augusta will hold its ceremony on May 14. The University of Maine Law School’s commencement is May 21.

    On Saturday morning, the University of Southern Maine awarded almost 900 degrees during its first in-person commencement ceremony in three years. The Cross Insurance Arena in Portland hosted USM’s 142nd commencement ceremony.

    After earning an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered the commencement address at USM. While helping Maine get through the COVID-19 outbreak, university authorities commended his leadership and ability to connect with people.

    Deqa Dhalac, the first Somali-born female mayor in the United States, delivered the graduating address at the University of Maine in Farmington. Dhalac was unanimously chosen in December 2021. She left her native Somalia, which was on the verge of collapse, in 1990.

    Prior to becoming mayor she was elected twice to the South Portland City Council, in 2018 and 2020. Dhalac is considered a leader and community activist. She currently serves at the Somali Community Center of Maine and is board president of the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition and a board member of the Maine Women’s Fund, according to a UMF press release. She also has two master’s degrees.

    She told graduate candidates that seeking higher education is a privilege that not everyone takes advantage of.

    In Orono on Saturday, the University of Maine gave out nearly 1,700 degrees during the 220th commencement exercise at the Alfond Sports Arena. The building was packed with thousands of friends and family members, and it was the first in-person graduation ceremony held on the campus since 2019.

    More than 4,500 University of Maine System students received degrees on Saturday, including more than 3,700 undergraduates and more than 800 graduate students.

    Husson University’s Class of 2022 held a commencement ceremony Saturday at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. More than 1,000 degrees and certificates were awarded to almost 900 graduates – the largest graduating class in Husson’s history, according to News Center Maine.

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