By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Ashford University graduates from across the country flocked to Clinton on Saturday to celebrate their academic accomplishments.
An estimated 1,600 graduates plus approximately 8,000 guests traveled to the Clinton and Quad-City area for Ashford University’s two-day graduation celebrations and ceremonies.
On Saturday at the university’s Clinton campus, students met with their professors and fellow classmates during a day-long celebration. For many it may have been the first time for a face-to-face visit because 98 percent of Ashford students take classes online. More than 100 students who attend classes on campus also graduated.
Ashford President Richard Pattenaude attended the festivities, talking to many graduates who traveled hundreds of miles to participate in the graduation and see the university campus.
“This makes it real what we do. It’s also enormously rewarding to meet the students,” Pattenaude said. “Think about someone who comes here from Idaho just to be part of this experience so their college experience can be complete. That’s very powerful. It reaffirms to us the importance of the Clinton campus.”
The Saturday celebration also included food, tours, photos, live music, historical presentations and other fun activities for the graduates and their families to take part in before the graduation ceremonies took place on Sunday.
Among those who walked across the stage in a cap and gown at the iWireless Center in Moline on Sunday was Tom Hoffmann. Tom traveled to Clinton from outside of Dallas to accept a diploma on behalf of his daughter, Sidney, 29, who is deployed in Afghanistan through the Army.
“It’s very exciting to be able to be a part of your child’s graduation,” Tom said. “To accept this for her because she’s deployed is another honor.”
To further recognize his daughter’s accomplishments, Tom said during the ceremony he would wear a yellow ribbon pin with a blue star banner pendant that Sidney gave him.
“I’m proud of her getting her degree as well as supporting our country,” Tom said.