My sincerest congratulations and virtual bear hugs to all the Griz Grads of 2019!

The University of Montana conducted their annual spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, as over 2,000 students celebrated, cheered, cried, threw mortar boards in the air and stepped outside the Adams Center to take on the next big thing.

My colleague Peter Christian and I were once again asked to read the names of each of the graduates as they walked up the ramp to the stage to receive their diplomas. With so many names, you can imagine there is not a lot of time to rehearse and practice those that might be a pronunciation challenge. And the LAST thing you want to do is stumble over a name and get it wrong.

Each student hands you a card with their name on it and they are asked to phonetically spell out the proper pronunciation if there are any uncertainties. Given that the university would like to get through about 15 or more graduates per minute, you can imagine how little time you have to ask each student to whisper their name to you before you announce it over the PA system. And while Peter and I were wishing for several hundred more Johnsons, Smiths and Andersons, I think we got through it all with minimal stumbles. Apologies to any graduates who might be the exceptions.

So thank you again University of Montana for inviting us. And best wishes to the class of 2019!