A moment of euphoria seemed to hit at the same time hundreds of blue and gold balloons dropped from the ceiling of the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Montana State University graduates in black caps and gowns cheered and hugged one another at the culmination of the fall commencement ceremony. One decorated cap atop a graduate summed up the feeling.

“Psyched to be done with this B.S.,” the cap read.

MSU expected 1,100 students to take part in Saturday’s ceremony. The Bozeman flagship graduated 853 students with bachelor’s degrees, 165 with graduate degrees and 141 who completed a master’s or doctoral requirements. Gallatin College had 31 graduates.

Students heard speeches from university officials and community leaders, and then were awarded their diplomas.

The day was extra special for Mikaela DeVries, from Denton, who earned a bachelor of science in community health from MSU. The graduate has epilepsy and was told by doctors the condition would slow down her education.

DeVries was told it would take her six to nine years to graduate from college. She finished in four and a half.

“I feel like I proved a lot of people wrong,” DeVries said.

She plans to take some time off and then head back to school for a graduate degree in social work. DeVries’ mom, Heather, said it was “awesome” to watch her daughter graduate Saturday. Heather and her husband Mike are MSU alumni and have had three children attend their alma mater.

Heather said she’s proud to see her kids study at MSU.

“It just feels like home. We feel like we’ve raised them well,” she said.

DeVries walked out with of the fieldhouse with her classmate and fellow graduate, Ruth Robinson. The two bonded in class as Robinson also has epilepsy. Robinson said having classmates like DeVries is one of the reasons she enjoyed attending MSU.

“I liked it a lot. It’s a really tight-knit group,” Robinson said.

The Bozeman native is starting a job with local nonprofit Family Outreach, which serves adults and children with special education needs.

During the ceremony, graduates got words of encouragement from Robert Nystuen, vice chair of the Montana Board of Regents, Kerry Hanson, vice president of engagement with the MSU Alumni Foundation, and Taylor Blossom, president of the Associated Students of MSU.

Blossom, who will graduate next year, said it’s bittersweet to see classmates leave campus. He implored graduates to make a difference in the lives of others and be impactful in their next ventures.

“Use the determination, passion or ability to function on less than four hours of sleep that allowed you to be successful at Montana State in whatever life holds next for you,” Blossom said.

Michael Clark, former executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, was awarded an honorary doctorate during the ceremony. Waded Cruzado, MSU president, said he had earned the doctorate by being a champion of conservation and a social activist.

Clark spoke at the ceremony about the importance of democracy, speaking out when necessary and the threats of climate change. He told the graduates the climate is an issue they’ll have to take on.

“The challenge of coping with climate change is your future, and will be your legacy,” Clark said.

Cruzado said the graduating class is diverse, with students from 22 countries and seven tribal nations. The MSU Bobcat Singers group performed a Native American honor song during the ceremony with the entire fieldhouse crowd on its feet.

At the end of the ceremony, Cruzado asked the students to stay in touch with their alma mater. She asked that they tell their children and grandchildren that they were the first class in a century to witness the Bobcats beat the University of Montana Grizzlies four years in a row in the Brawl of the Wild game.

And with that, Cruzado asked for one more chant as the ceremony ended.

“Go Cats, go.”

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2607.

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