University of Southern Maine celebrates 144th Commencement

Student speaker Hamido Hassan shared her educational journey at the 2024 Commencement ceremony.
Student speaker Hamido Hassan

The University of Southern Maine celebrated its 144th Commencement on May 4th with more than 1,000 graduates marching across the stage of Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena.

The University’s biggest day drew several thousand family and friends, speeches by notables including sportscaster Tom Caron and proud school leaders.

“You pursued your educational goals and you were unwavering in your hope for a new and better future,” University President Jacqueline Edmondson said. “I want you to know how very proud I am of you, and I celebrate each and every one of you.”

The ceremony is the culminating event on the academic calendar, giving the opportunity for individual recognition to every graduating student who wishes to participate. In all, more than 1,600 students will be eligible to participate.

Roger Katz, who serves on the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, applauded the diverse group.

Joe Wishcamper received an honorary degree at the 2024 Commencement ceremony.
Lyndel J. “Joe” Wishcamper

“Some of you came straight from high school,” Katz said. “Others have had longer journeys and are actually parents yourself. Sixteen hundred stories. Sixteen hundred unique sets of obstacles you have faced and overcome.”

The congratulations continued with student speaker Hamido Hassan, who graduated with her master’s degree in Counseling and a concentration in Clinical Mental Health. Born in a Kenyan refugee camp to Somali parents, Hassan immigrated to the United States when she was 6 years old and settled in the Somali community in Lewiston, Maine.

Hassan talked about her own self doubt as she pursued her goals.

“It was the power of community that transformed whispers of uncertainty into shouts of triumph,” she said. “It was the professors coaches, mentors, supervisors, family members, and friends who saw our potential even when we couldn’t see it ourselves. The community that surrounded us with encouragement, advice and inspiration, believing our greatness when we struggled to believe in ourselves.”

Tom Caron was the keynote speaker at the 2024 Commencement ceremony.
Keynote speaker Tom Caron

An honorary degree was conferred to Lyndel J. “Joe” Wishcamper, who has had a successful career of developing affordable housing across the country.

The keynote speech was given by Caron, a Lewiston, Maine native and a longtime figure in New England sports news. He talked about his difficulty starting out, the jobs he didn’t get and the beginner pay. He told graduates to keep working and follow your heart.

Success isn’t linear,” Caron said. “You will have wonderful moments where you achieve great things. And you will have low points that feel like the end of the road. Keep grinding. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, and never let anyone try to define your value. Only you can do that.”

“Go out there and bet on yourself,” he added. “There isn’t a better investment in the world”