December 14, 2020 at 2:30pm
Dane Lisser

"Commencement is a time for celebration"

Millikin University honored members of the Class of 2020 with a virtual winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 13. The virtual graduate celebration was a unique and exciting experience for Big Blue graduates and their friends and families as well as for fellow Big Blue alumni everywhere. 

The virtual commencement celebration honored over 100 graduates, including traditional undergraduates and those receiving their Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. In addition to speeches by university and student leaders, each graduate was honored individually during the celebration.

"More than any other university event or program, commencement has very special and symbolic significance," said Millikin President Dr. Jim Reynolds. "It's the culmination of many hard years of work for our students and their families, and represents a demarcation point for us all–the end of an academic generation and going forth in educated women and men who will help bring and create a better society for all of us in which to live and work."

Reynolds says one of the major reasons why Millikin has endured since its founding is due to the efforts of those who "hold our university in its trust."

"Our faculty and staff members serve all our students in important and meaningful ways, and extend student learning both inside and outside the classroom," said Reynolds.

Reynolds noted that sometimes in the midst of life-changing events, people look for affirmation–a few words from someone to let them know that they are on the right path. "We need to know that somewhere in the big scoreboard of life we have been tallied and that we count," he said.

In a few short words, Reynolds referred to The Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as the central theme to his message. "Today is an important reminder that none of us can get what we want," said Reynolds. "Commencement for me is a time for celebration, but more importantly it's a time of contact – contact with friends and colleagues around campus, rejoicing with me over the successes we had throughout the course of an academic year, contact with proud families who have loved their graduates to the finish line, contact with our students who have overcome adversity and unimaginable hurdles to do something noteworthy, to graduate from Millikin University."

Reynolds concluded, "Today, I hope you've gotten what you need. We might not be gathered together listening to the shouts of loved ones, but today everything you need is there for you and all you have to do is accept it. Godspeed Class of 2020."

Student speaker and Decatur [Ill.] native Brian Reed reflected back on field trips to Kirkland Fine Arts Center as a child and thinking how amazing it would be to become a Millikin student. Reed earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from Millikin's Tabor School of Business.

"In our lives, we never stop learning. Whether it is from our parents, our careers, those we surround ourselves with or our spouses," said Reed. "I learned from my wife to believe in yourself and that if you try and give 110 percent effort you can accomplish anything. It was because of her inspiration, the desire to set a good example for my boys, and to make my parents proud that I started on the journey to finish my degree."

Reed recalled a spark of confidence that helped him finish his goal.

"I encourage you to think about your spark, hang on to it, remember it, and let it guide you to the great accomplishments that have yet to come for each and every one of you," said Reed. "We have all come away from this experience with new friends, new relationships and new ideas. We learned from each other, encouraged each other and we are all stronger people for this experience."

Reed concluded, "Never stop believing in yourself and you will continue to accomplish greatness."

Congratulations to the Millikin Class of 2020.