Finlandia University Commencement

Published: Apr. 30, 2017 at 9:39 PM EDT
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Finlandia University held their spring commencement today. 86 candidates for graduation attended the ceremony in the university's gym.

Their special guest speaker serves as the consul general of Finland to New York, and 36 other states and territories of the United States.

The Paavo Nurmi Center filled with family and friends, after they climbed the hills of Hancock, to honor the student's achievements.

The 2017 student representative who was asked to speak at the ceremony, Summa Cum Laude biology major Matthew McLaughlin, is celebrating more than his bachelors.

"I'm a second lieutenant, i was just commissioned yesterday as an officer, and my mos is as a medical services officer," 2017 student representative Matthew McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin says his speech will touch on his time training to be an officer, and the sisu spirit he used to get through college and officer candidate school.

"It's gonna be focused on a specific word, and that's grit and just being part of the community and having grit and going to school here four years and being able to finish out," McLaughlin said.

Finlandia students are excited to complete school, and McLaughlin summed their time up by saying what he will miss.

"I think the saddest thing is going to be missing the professors, i was lucky enough to get a real close relationship with a lot of my professors here and i'm really gonna miss them," McLaughlin said.

Commencement speaker Manu Virtamo, consul general and ambassador of Finland to New York, talked about his homeland and his own experience in college.

"Finland is celebrating their centennial of our independence so i'm going to tell a little bit about Finland's history, where we came from and where we are now," Virtamo said. "I'm going to tell a little about my own time at the Helsinki University in the 1970's and how the times were different from that of today, the challenges are much bigger now."

Before speaking, the ambassador was awarded an honorary degree from the university. He says his country has risen in the last 100 years to be one of the richest nations in the world, and encouraged the students graduating today to always push ahead.

"Also I want to encourage them to go forward and if they fail in something there's always something else they can turn to," Virtamo said.