Kevin Beebe’s post-graduation itinerary is a doozy.
“Tomorrow will be my last day here. Then I’m off to the Middle East,” he said as he paraded Saturday in a loose procession from the University of Montana Oval to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Beebe, from Pullman, Wash., was braving the May morning elements that turned out to be quite pleasant to attend the central ceremony of UM’s 116th annual commencement exercises.
Predicted rains held off as Jim Messina, a 1993 alum who ran President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, delivered a 15-minute commencement address, tracing a career that began with a “tasteful mullet” and red Chuck Taylor Converse All-Stars as an undergrad on the Missoula campus.
Beebe reveled in the seize-the-day spirit that student body president Zach Brown urged when the 900 or so graduates were seated on the floor of the stadium.
“It’s our duty, graduates, to love this moment for everything that it is,” Brown said.
“Stop planning for a day or two, or at least a few hours, if you’re really Type A, and reflect on the beauty and the power that this moment represents.”
Stiff winds buffeted commencement exercises in 2011, the first in the football stadium, and last year the day proved too hot for many. Neither was a problem this time, and though stadium seats were wet with rain, light showers marred only the last half hour of the 90-minute central ceremony.
“Lots of undergrads and grad students will skip the main ceremony and go to the individual ceremonies,” pointed out Nick LeTang, of Colstrip, who received a master’s degree in accounting a year after getting his undergraduate diploma. “But I was really looking forward to hearing Jim Messina.
“It’s a happy ending, really. So it would be a shame to go through all this school and not to take in this joyous moment.”
Later in the day, 11 Army ROTC cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army, Montana Army National Guard or the U.S. Army Reserve.
They included distinguished military graduates Cory Dimas, Stephanie Harms and Karl Kunkleman.