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U of I awards posthumous degrees at commencement ceremony for murder victims, student killed in crash

U of I celebrated its 128th commencement ceremony inside the Kibbie Dome. During the ceremony, they honored the five students who died during the school year.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Students and guests from the University of Idaho’s Moscow campus gathered inside the Kibbie Dome to celebrate this year’s graduating class on Saturday.

“Right as the fight song ended, that was pretty special. That was a moment to remember right there," Ethan Corgatalli, who graduated, said. 

The graduation closed the book on one of U of I's most memorable school years. During the ceremony, the university honored Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin who were the victims in last November’s off-campus stabbings, and Guadalupe Ruiz who passed away in a car crash last August.

A posthumous degree in general studies was given to Goncalves, one in marketing was given to Mogen and one in criminology was given to Ruiz, as they were all set to graduate this year. Chapin, who was a freshman, will get a certificate in recreation, sport and tourism management, and Kernodle, who was a junior, will get a certificate in marketing.  

“I hereby confer upon Madison May Mogen, the posthumous degree earned and testimony where of her family will receive the diploma of the University of Idaho,” U of I president Scott Green, said. 

For many U of I graduates like Kiely Hardy it was a somber reminder of the past year.

“Everyone just felt terrible for the families, the friends, and it was just like, we need to do everything that we can to help out," Hardy said. 

For graduates like Hardy, she will never forget how the community came together.

"Like everyone's really a community right now. Everyone's really coming together and in light of everything happening, like just really caring for one another," Hardy said. 

Saturday's commencement celebrated the next adventure for students. Like Brady Wilson, who is excited to turn in the books and start working.

“I'm excited to just start my new chapter. I've been here for about six years, and I'm ready to get out,” Wilson said.

This commencement at U of I is something Wilson said he’ll never forget.

This week, Chapin and Kernodle were honored with certificates in separate ceremonies.

Throughout the three U of I campuses, more than 2,200 students will cross the stage this commencement season. The Boise and Idaho Falls commencements will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.


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