'Change the world': Carroll University holds in-person commencement; Pardeep Kaleka gives keynote speech
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Graduation ceremonies in 2021 may look a little different, but they hold the same meaning, or perhaps even more.
Carroll University held an in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 8. Masks and social distancing were mandatory.
.@CarrollU in Waukesha holds its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021. Nearly 600 undergrads are here. Parents and supporters are watching the ceremony from a livestream inside a nearby building. pic.twitter.com/ZCBpdxtYXf— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 8, 2021
"I first want to say all of you look fantastic sitting out there on Main Lawn in your orange," Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, president of Carroll University told the graduates.
Brightly colored masks were as much of a staple as the meaningfully decorated caps. Only undergrads and faculty could sit on Main Lawn, so students were given two guest passes, which allowed their parents and family to watch the ceremony through a livestream inside.
"It feels really nice to be able to do it in person (instead of not having) a graduation ceremony or to just have it completely online," said graduate Mercedes DeGrand.
The graduates soaked in the advice of their commencement speaker, Pardeep Kaleka, the executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.
"Have the courage to take on some of the world's pressing problems. You are going to change the world. Each one of you is going to change the world. Each one of you is going to have an impact," Kaleka said.
"Give forgiveness a chance."— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 8, 2021
I wanted to share some advice from @PardeepKaleka's speech today at the @carrollu commencement ceremony. He lost his father in the 2012 Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek. Ever since, he has been working to help the community heal. pic.twitter.com/t69KjFn0LI
The university awarded Kaleka with an honorary doctorate. In his speech, he recounted the story of the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek in 2012, when a white supremacist killed his father and six other parishioners.
"Give forgiveness a chance. Do not play the short game with forgiveness. It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen over a month. It's nine years later, and I'm still struggling with what forgiveness looks like," Kaleka said.
As Carroll students watched their friends graduate virtually last year, walking across the stage was a moment they wondered if they'd ever experience.
"It's been challenging for sure. Online classes last year and that transition was really funky. Hybrid classes this past year," said graduate Desirae Dunn.
But all of the uncertainty made Graduation Day that much sweeter.
"With the whole pandemic, I didn't think that we would be able to do this at all, so the fact that I was able to sit at Carroll and graduate was awesome," said graduate Taylor Zeinert.