Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Blackfeet Community College was one of many educational institutions which shut its doors to in-person instruction, moving to means of remotely completing course work. As the shutdown continued, BCC found time to carefully plan and execute its annual graduation ceremonies on Thursday, May 28.
Vehicles carrying more than 50 grads lined up on the driveway entrance to BCC, with the first ones stopping in front of the Medicine Spring Library. The announcers’ stand was set up to one side of the entrance to the Student Commons in the Beaver Painted Lodge while faculty and staff members watched from seats arranged nearby. Folks wanting to watch the ceremonies themselves gathered in the Southwind Lodge parking lot and viewed them on a Jumbotron television screen.
The podiums were decked out in buffalo hides, and light breezes, warm temperatures and sunny skies greeted one and all. Wayne Smith acted as emcee, and BCC President Dr. Karla Bird welcomed graduates and guests while providing introductions for all the speakers.
Blackfeet Chairman Timothy Davis spoke, recalling the beginnings of the college and relating that story to today’s current events. Chief Earl Old Person also encouraged the graduates and listeners to remain strong through this time and to recall the resiliency the Blackfeet people have shown in times of difficulty.
Jesse DeRosier delivered the keynote address, where he talked about his educational journey that led him to eventually work at BCC in Blackfeet studies. Valedictorian Lisa Aichlmayr spoke about having come to BCC to learn about nursing and coming out having learned about Native culture, something that changed her views for the better. Salutatorian Jeremiah Kennedy talked about having reached the endpoint of his career in auto sales and finding a new path via BCC on his life’s journey.
Then the graduates arrived in their vehicles, climbed out, got their diplomas and gifts, them drove triumphantly through the streets of Browning.