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Commencement Ceremony
Honors Class of 2021

Spring-2021_commencement_afternoon_session_25 (1)
Photo Courtesy: Scott Beseler, NKU University Photographer.

May 9, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University celebrated one of the greatest joys each year by graduating nearly 2,000 students at its Spring Commencement exercises May 8 and 9 at BB&T Arena.

For the first time since December 2019, NKU held three in-person ceremonies to celebrate the Class of 2021 and the culmination of an important chapter in their lives. Students and their families at each ceremony heard congratulatory remarks from President Ashish Vaidya and Interim Provost Ande Durojaiye, as well as fellow graduates, faculty and alumni.

“For our students, these final semesters have come with challenges and obstacles no other graduating class has faced before,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “They faced it with grit and resilience.” Quoting National Youth Poet Laurette Amanda Gorman’s inspiring presidential day inauguration day poem, Vaidya said, “I know that the class of 2021 is brave enough to see the light and be the light that the nation needs now.”

Graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education were honored Saturday at 10 a.m. Hannah Burns was the featured student. Burns graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both elementary and special education. NKU Board of Regents’ Chair Andrá Ward (’86) shared his advice to the 630 graduates during his Commencement speech.

During Saturday’s afternoon ceremony, NKU honored 514 graduates of the Haile/US Bank College of Business and the College of Informatics. Nicholas Elleman, a student athlete who graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business information systems addressed fellow graduates. NKU Board of Regents’ Vice Chair Normand Desmarais shared lessons learned during his address.

The College of Health Professions graduated 579 students at its ceremony on Sunday morning. Amanda Woll served as the student speaker and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in in athletic training. Vice Chair Desmarais also served as the guest speaker.

NKU has remained committed to providing a meaningful celebration for its graduates and their families while balancing the appropriate health protocols. The Salmon P. Chase College of Law bestowed 104 Juris Doctor degrees and ten Master of Legal Studies to graduates during its Commencement ceremony. In all, NKU celebrated 5,231 graduates from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 over the weekend.

All ceremonies are available for on-demand viewing on NKU’s YouTube channel for any graduates or guests who were not able to attend in person. For more details on the ceremonies and to watch a live stream, visit NKU’s Commencement webpage.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit