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HANCOCK — This weekend 86 students from the Finlandia University Class of 2017 were awarded their degrees in a ceremony that won’t soon be forgotten.

The emotions hit a high when business major Schwartzen Jarmond passionately addressed the crowd with an impromptu speech. “Looking up at my family and professors and staff, I see my super heroes,” he said while fighting tears. “This is not just me up here.”

Jarmond studied internationally during the fall 2016 semester, and while abroad his father passed away. “The people that were texting me were the people here, President (Philip) Johnson, (Coordinator of Residential Life) Leann Fogle. More texts were from people here than at home in New York. You guys became my family.”

Prior to Jarmond’s speech, which was done while graduates were being introduced, alumni speaker Jordan Siegler (’09) talked about how his experience prepared him to better serve society while urging students to never forget their potential to do good.

The Student Representative Matt McLaughlin gave a stirring speech about the sisu that has been instilled in him and his classmates. “What makes us, as Finlandia students, unique is our grit, and what gives us our grit is this community,” McLaughlin said.

The commencement speaker was Consul General of Finland to New York Manu Virtamo, who was also awarded an honorary degree during the ceremony. The ceremony also included the inaugural bestowing of the Board of Trustees’ Distinguished Faculty Award, which was given to Dr. Mary Jane Hatton from the International School of Business.