LSU awards record-setting 969 degrees during summer commencement

Published 1:02 pm Saturday, August 14, 2021

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LSU awarded 969 degrees during the university’s 305th commencement exercises on Friday, Aug. 13. The 969 degrees awarded was an all-time record for any summer commencement at the university.

LSU held two ceremonies for this record-setting class — one for graduate students and another for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students.

During the ceremonies, LSU President William F. Tate IV delivered the keynote address. Interim Executive Vice President & Provost Matt Lee provided opening remarks, and LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf conferred degrees. Michael Hendrick, candidate for Doctor of Musical Arts, performed the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and LSU Alma Mater.

“Being here today reminds me why I became an educator and why I have spent my entire career serving in public institutions,” Lee said. “I am sure I am not alone among my colleagues when I say that it is rewarding, and reinvigorating, to be here with you today as we celebrate this amazing accomplishment.”

During Tate’s keynote address, he told the graduates about the history of vaccines and immunizations, specially related to smallpox and how the origin of that particular vaccine has strong ties to LSU’s land-grant mission.

In 1774, farmer Benjamin Jetsy inoculated his family with cowpox to protect them from smallpox. Jetsy faced backlash from his community, but ultimately his vaccination of his family worked.

“Jetsy changed the course of history,” Tate said. “Today, your lives have been positively influenced by his action.”

Tate outlined LSU’s land grant mission that focuses on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military and engineering without excluding other scientific and classical studies.

“You are this generation’s Benjamin Jetsy,” Tate said. “And like Jetsy, your class enters a leadership role in society during a worldwide epidemic. The world is counting on you to operate like Jetsy – seek truth, demonstrate courage and hold to empathy in the face of critics.”

Tate concluded, “I am counting on you, the graduating class of 2021, to lead us into a better future.”

LSU’s summer 2021 graduating class represents 47 Louisiana parishes, 43 U.S. states and 35 foreign countries. The oldest graduate is 86, and the youngest is 19.

The 969 total graduates are made up of 327 students who received undergraduate degrees and 642 who received graduate degrees. Also, 14 LSU employees earned degrees this summer.

Two graduates received the University Medal for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class. The medalists included Aimee Maria Ardonne, a native of Denham Springs, La., who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in leadership and human resource development from the College of Human Sciences & Education, and Georgia Claire Krieger, a native of Mandeville, La., who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

LASAL Scholar Cole Smiroldo, a native of Mandeville, La., who received a bachelor’s degree in accounting, earned College Honors – LSU’s highest graduation distinction, which includes the Upper Division Honors Distinction, from the LSU Ogden Honors College.

Lizabeth Breaux, of Plano, Texas, graduated with the Engaged Citizen distinction through the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership, or CCELL, in conjunction with LSU Campus Life. Breaux, who graduated from the College of Engineering, earned 10 service-learning credit hours and volunteered 75.5 hours across her local and global communities. Some of Breaux’s volunteer opportunities include creating paintings to decorate patients’ rooms at Life Source Hospice, reading to students at Delmont Elementary and volunteering in the Regenerative Medicine Lab at LSU.