Mat-Su College

he Mat-Su College will once again hold a virtual ceremony for its 2021 graduates.

PALMER — The Mat-Su College will once again hold a virtual ceremony for its 2021 graduates.

To recognize the graduating class’s achievements, the Mat-Su college student government posted yard signs with student names and pictures in the main campus parking area near the front entrance.

“We wish our students the best,” Mat-Su College director, Talis Colberg said.

Students and their families are encouraged to drive through to view their signs and even take selfies in front of them if they want to post them on social media, celebrating two years of hard work and dedication. Colberg noted that students can also keep the signs as mementos.

“The reality is that we would prefer a normal graduation,” Colberg said. “They made it through and more power to them.”

According to Colberg, there’s a total of 89 graduates this year.

“Which is down from normal, which is kind of a reflection of the whole year. It’s been a tough year for everyone,” Colberg said. “We can tell people want to come to college from the spring numbers. We actually had more students sign up for classes this spring than the spring before. The difference was, they were taking fewer classes, so we had fewer credits. That meant more people wanted to come, they just didn’t have the interest in taking distance classes… People want to come back, we believe that. It seems likely that as we get more into face-to-face classes, they will come back. We look forward to that. We look forward to seeing each other.”

Colberg said that most of the graduates are receiving associate degrees while numerous others are receiving certificates. He said that a large number of students take their education further to other campuses like UAA.

Arin Tampke is receiving an associate degree in computer systems and technology and the student speaker for the class of 2021. He said that he plans to take his degree and start using it as quickly as he can, looking to establish an internship and ideally a career down the road.

Tampke is 26 years old and grew up in the Valley. He said that his favorite aspects about the Mat-Su College are the school’s down-to-earth teachers and the inclusive sense of community throughout the campus.

“I think it’s a great starting point for anyone in the Valley looking to further their education; and having the middle college program there as well, it’s a great place for high schoolers to start thinking for the future,” Tampke said.

Tampke said that he spent the last two years going to school full time, serving as the student government president, and participating in clubs like the student newspaper, the Mat-Su Monitor. He said that adjusting to the pandemic was a difficult adjustment, especially with certain classes that didn’t translate to virtual sessions as well as others. He said that he’s glad that he pushed through and able to celebrate his success and his peers’ successes, even though it won’t be in person.

“Even though we all endured these different hardships, we still made it to the top and graduating,” Tampke said.

The 2021 virtual graduation will launch on the Mat-Su College website May 7 at 5 p.m. For more information, visit matsu.alaska.edu.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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