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Summer Commencement ceremony caps historic academic year

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette conferred 332 degrees during its Summer 2021 Commencement on Friday at the Cajundome, signaling the end of a historic academic year.

UL Lafayette awarded 184 bachelor’s degrees, 123 master’s degrees, 21 doctoral degrees and four graduate certificates, the final additions to a total of 3,592 degrees received by the fall, spring and summer graduating classes.

The tally marks the second largest number of degrees awarded in a single academic year, and an amount only slightly lower than the record the University set the previous academic year.

Among the total for the 2020-2021 academic year are 731 master’s and 78 doctoral degrees – the most awarded in a single academic year. Black graduates also received more degrees than ever before, including a record number of master’s and doctoral degrees. In addition, more people of Asian and Hispanic descent earned degrees than ever before.

During the ceremony, Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, told graduates that they “are part of a historically diverse group, reflecting the University’s unwavering commitment to being a place where everyone is welcomed, where every voice is valued, and where every dream is within reach.”

He praised graduates for achieving their academic goals during "the greatest public health crisis in more than a century." Savoie also reminded them that their degrees – and the determination and courage they have displayed during the pandemic – have positioned them to become leaders in their professions and communities.

“The uncertainties of the past year should not obscure our responsibilities and opportunities that remain ahead, and all of you have the power to shape a future that is healthier than the past and stronger than the present,” he said.

“Tomorrow is in your hands – and that’s exactly where it belongs.”

Kiwana McClung, an associate professor in the School of Architecture and Design, was the Commencement speaker. She was honored with a Leadership Service Award from the UL Lafayette Foundation earlier this year.

Service to others – and its ability to affect change and improve lives – threaded her message to graduates.

McClung encouraged graduates to fervently pursue “success, self-actualization and fulfillment” while remembering “to lift up and serve others in the process.”

“Serve your fellow human beings in ways that are lasting and give to others without expecting anything in return. Use whatever talents you possess, any advantages you gain, to make the lives of others better, easier. I promise you, the rewards of service are great and the effects of service have no expiration date,” she said.

View a list of Summer 2021 graduates.

Photo caption: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Summer 2021 graduates earned their diplomas Friday during ceremonies at the Cajundome, capping a historic 2020-2021 academic year during which 3,592 students earned degrees. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)