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ISU holds Winter Commencement Ceremony

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - On Saturday, Idaho State University conferred 1,290 degrees and certificates at its Winter Commencement Ceremony in Holt Arena.

One special degree that was handed out was for Paul Dee Rasmussen. Rasmussen was a former ISU faculty member who passed away in September.

Rasmussen's family was in attendance to receive his Bachelor's of Arts degree and the Bengal community honored them with a standing ovation. 

"It felt nice, because it felt like we were getting that little boost of strength," said daughter Rebecca Rasmussen. "People you don't even know cheering you on and just honoring our dad. It was really, really sweet."

During his time as a student, Rasmussen's passion was photography.

"There were times he would call me on the phone and be like hey I learned this cool thing from science or hey I took these photos," said daughter Christina Rasmussen. "He was really into photography. He would always share with me what he was doing and his photos. I am going to miss that."

Student speaker Heather Ann Larson says it was special to get to speak in front of the Bengal community.  

"I was nervous, but it was just a remarkable experience," Larson said. "To share that with all the other graduates was was really, really cool."

For graduates Irma Contreras and Ceceila Trevino, getting that diploma has been quite the journey.

"I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it also took me about six years to finish my degree," Contreras said. "But I have learned that I am capable of anything and everything that I set my mind to."

It's their time together that Trevino says she will cherish most. 

"Meeting friends like Irma," Trevino said. "She's from Hailey and I'm from Jerome. And so, I have enjoyed meeting long lasting friends that will last forever."

No degree may have been more impressive than the one of Bryant Walker. Bryant, who is blind and hard of hearing, received his communications degree.

"It was an honor and a pleasure to graduate as a Bengal," Walker said. "This is one of the best days of my life and I wouldn't change it for anything."

The university even made his diploma in braile, showing love from the start to the Walker family.

"Idaho State has been a really great university as far as their faculty and as far as their different departments to be able to give him the necessary information and technology that he needed," said Bryant's father Darin Walker.

Bryant says the student body has also given him full support.

"I have built friendships with a lot of students here that I will never, never forget."

For Bryant and all of these graduates, the future is looking bright.

"I want to be a assistive technology instructor which teaches technology to other blind people," Walker said.

"I currently work for the university, and so I'll continue to work for them and then hopefully get my master's degree," Trevino said.

"My next step after graduating is getting my master's," Contreras said. "I am going to be taking a semester off and preparing to apply to the MAC program.

"I hope to go to graduate school, and I'd like to get a master's degree, but I'm going to take a semester off and just kind of reevaluate," Larson said. "Run in the beautiful mountains of Pocatello and and just kind of take it all in and enjoy not being in school for a minute.

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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