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VCSU Winter Commencement Celebrates Graduates

Dec 14, 2023

A graduate with her degree during the 2023 Winter Commencement

Valley City State University celebrated student achievement during the Winter Commencement ceremony Thursday, Dec. 14, in Vangstad Auditorium.

133 students earned their degrees this summer or fall, including 101 undergraduate recipients and 32 graduate students. A full list of graduates is available here. Student speaker Cora Potts addresses the crowd during Winter Commencement.

“While the accomplishments you are recognized for today are significant, perhaps the most important aspect of today is what happens next,” President Alan LaFave said during the ceremony. “Whether your next plans are to be a teacher, software engineer, entrepreneur, business owner, nurse, wildlife biologist, writer, musician, artist, or pursue a degree in law or medicine or some other advanced education, the opportunities that lie before you are plentiful. No matter the next step on your path, you can all be proud to proclaim that you are a graduate of the VCSU Class of 2023.”

“We are confident that Valley City State University has prepared you for growth and achievement. I know those graduating today will take what they have learned and find future success, hopefully right here in North Dakota where opportunities abound and we are in need of your talents and abilities,” Curt Biller,  member of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) said.

“This summer, I decided to do this for myself,” student speaker and graduate Cora Potts said. “I returned to VCSU as a student once again to finish what I had started with continued support from so many people in the VCSU community.”

“Graduates, I hope you have done this for yourself and that you are finding your purpose,” Potts said. “Be proud of yourself, of the challenges you have faced and conquered, for your future and for your dreams. We did it. We will forever be Vikings.”

“Put in the work to truly fall in love with your career. You will know when you are in a job you are going to turn into your career,” faculty speaker Dr. Teather Sundstrom said. “Work hard to be the best that you can be. Commit to being a difference maker. Help drive the ship. Your teamwork,  leadership and communication and even being a cheerleader are all part of that process.”

During the ceremony, 19 students were recognized for completing their bachelor’s degree in three years.

Photos of graduation will be posted online. A copy of the program can be found here. A livestream of the ceremony can be viewed below or on VCSU’s YouTube channel.

For more information about VCSU, contact

three year graduates
The VCSU graduates pictured here completed their first bachelor’s degree in less than four years. These students are wearing a cardinal-colored stole in honor of this accomplishment. They include Izabelle Beck, Makayla Lillian Bopp, Allison Dennis, Dahlia Rosa Diegel, Cauy Jacob Ellingson, Ashley Evenson, Dylan Dorene Frederick, Riley Michael Gerhardt, Isabel Jain Grueneich, Kaytlin Ann Hoffman, Cassidy Kay Hoyt, Ian Xavier Keyes, Machaela Audrey Mund, Chloe Marie Nelson, Samantha Nelson, Loren Alese Perry, Madison Joleen Peters, Dale Tyler Skalicky, and Austyn Thornton.



Jana Michelle Hathaway, Bismarck
Lana M. Held, Hazelton
Darce Key Holcomb *, Cooperstown
Timothy Obstar Bozeman, Montana
Kara Lois Sharff *, Bismarck
Kurtis Lavell Walls *, Phoenix, Arizona


Daulton Bartholomay, Sheldon
Jeremiah Lamar Bundage Jr., Covington, Georgia
Janessa Ashley Dockter *, Medina
Mackenzie Jade Dougherty, Alexandria, Minnesota
Jessica Anne Eaton, Minot
Renee Ann Galvan, La Barge, Wyoming
Kayla Mae Grizzle, New Town
Melissa Jason*, Fargo
Renae Elizabeth Lehman*, Bismarck
Krystle Marie Leidholm, Fargo
Jeffrey Scott Moe*, Walhalla
Chanda Morgel *, Tioga
Summer Lynn Olsen, Fargo
Kennedy Olson, Park River
Kirsten Lee Perry Eldred, Pennsylvania
Alyssa Beth Peterson*, Bismarck
Melissa Port, Fargo
Hailey Ann Strauss, Arthur
Amer Vatres, Fargo
Kadie Lynne Walls*, Linton
Jolene Daley Woodbury, Watford City


Hailee Altringer, Jamestown
Izabelle Beck, Gwinner
Lindsey Rae Belmonte, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Toriana Rose Berg, Valley City
Josie Kathleen Berntson, Valley City
Cassie Michelle Boelke, Wahpeton
Hannah Marie Cooper, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Dahlia Rosa Diegel, Wishek
Stephen Joseph Dora, Bismarck
Holly Ebner, Mott
Sam Erickson, Fargo
Ashley Evenson, Fargo
Dylan Dorene Frederick, Gwinner
Lindsay Joy Friend, Rock Springs, Wyoming
Andrew Michael Givler, Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Brooke Morgan Graalum, Jamestown
Samantha Graber, Valley City
Rachel A. Hoff, LaMoure
Kaytlin Ann Hoffman, Fargo
Amber Rose Hoffner, Minot
Cassidy Kay Hoyt, McHenry
Brandon Michael Jenkins, Wilton
Abigayle Ashe Karoline Kramer, Bismarck
Maddison Lyn Lachtara, Moorcroft, Wyoming
Cynthia Elizabeth Lara, Rock Springs, Wyoming
Sidney Janae Leier, West Fargo
Sabine Livingston*, Denver, Colorado
Jennifer Luehring, Fargo
Amy Kathleen Marsh, Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Canada
Abigail Meyer, Valley City
Cade Morse Olivia, Minnesota
Preston Marvin Myers, Valley City
Breanna Kay Nelson, Maxbass
Chloe Marie Nelson, Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Mikayla Ann Nelson, Valley City
Samantha Nelson, Valley City
Emma Nielsen Barnesville, Minnesota
Mya Olin, Williston
Julia Michael Pearson, Valley City
Loren Alese Perry, Villa Park, Illinois
Kayla Roper, West Fargo
Tai Ann Ryan, Cedar Crest, New Mexico
Allison Skwira Holdingford, Minnesota
William Lee Tinjum, Stacy, Minnesota
Alexis Brooke Trujillo, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Taylor L. Webster, Fargo
Abigail J. Wolter, Fergus Falls, Minnesota


Joseph Brannon Littleton, Pike Road, Alabama


Jacey Lyn Alber, Marion
Taylor Jean Arens*, Valley City
Justice Mykal Bice, Bonifay, Florida
Makayla Lillian Bopp, Forman
Bryan Patrick Delaney, Fargo
Allison Dennis, Cando
Colby Dows, Page
Cauy Jacob Ellingson, Edgeley
Kasha Efermina Fernandes, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Isabel Jain Grueneich, Ellendale
Jacob Joel Hanson, Berthold
Nicholas Gene Harberts, Buckley, Washington
Jacob Alan Harstad, Rogers
Megan Lynn Haugrud, Moorhead, Minnesota
Melissa Kathleen Holub, Valley City
Nicholas P. Horner*, Valley City
Xavier Cole Jacobson, Page
Clinton Don Jewett, Valley City
Ian Xavier Keyes, Jamestown
Grace Chiaohwa-hwa Kiang*, Moorpark, California
Shayden Luna, Towner
Russell Glenn Marker*, Valley City
Machaela Audrey Mund, Milnor
Bailey Nelson, Argusville
Sanden O’Connell, Lake Park, Minnesota
Madison Joleen Peters*, Cando
Alayna Christine Proctor, Champlin, Minnesota
Ryan Alec Reynolds*, West Fargo
Anthony John Russell, Enumclaw, Washington
Jennifer Rose Sandberg, Valley City
Mardi Lynn Scutchings, Kelvington, Saskatchewan, Canada
Dale Tyler Skalicky, Bowman
Clay Christian Sporer, Bismarck
Zachary Robin Swinbourne*, Surprise, Arizona
Adam Davane Thompson*, Menahga, Minnesota
Austyn Thornton, Valley City
Brook Lynn Tibke, Wilton
Jahidi Malik West, Stockton, California
Colton Wayne Wetch, Valley City
Austin Young, Breezy Point, Minnesota
Alexander Kazuma Zacek, Surprise, Arizona


Laritza Noyola Barcenas Mendoza, Gillette, Wyoming
Garrett Daniel Foss*, Casselton
Riley Michael Gerhardt, Valley City
Shane Nixon*, Markham, Ontario, Canada
Cora Marie Potts, Valley City


Betsy Ann Brimhall, Tioga
Dawson Hertz, Jamestown
Charleigh Manley, Sacramento, California

* Completed requirements July 28, 2023