Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) celebrated this year’s graduates at a commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 11, 2023. 74 of this year’s graduates walked during the ceremony that took place in the Lester Jack Bridges Cultural Center at FDLTCC. Dr. Arne Vainio provided the commencement address and student speakers included Valerie Zhaawendaagozikwe and Gracee Petersen.

Watch the recording of the 2023 FDLTCC Commencement Ceremony

During her welcoming remarks, FDLTCC Acting President, Anita Hanson, honored former president, Stephanie Hammitt. “Yesterday and this evening were her favorite days of the school year,” reflected Hanson, “…Specifically our events to salute the efforts of our graduating students…”

Dr. Arne Vainio, M.D., Family Practice, Min No Aya Win Human Services, provided the commencement address. During his speech, Vainio discussed the 7 Grandfather Teachings: humility, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect, and love. “Living by these teachings will make your life full and in balance, and these teachings apply to all of us,” shared Vainio.

2023 Student of the Year, Valerie Zhaawendaagozikwe, reflected on the struggles that many students experienced during their academic journeys and the struggles that some in the community are still experiencing. She discussed overcoming struggles of her own to pursue her goals and the importance of being an example for her family, “It’s attainable, it’s possible, to learn our language, to belong in these places…it’s not just for academics, but for everybody.”

Gracee Petersen discussed the many paths that her fellow students might go after graduation. “This graduation…should be looked at as an opening to wherever the future takes you, whether that is a career, trade or continuing your education,” shared Petersen, “Any career that you choose to pursue matters, whatever you’re good at, go ahead and do it.”

During the ceremony, the Cedar Creek Singers provided the grand entry, honor, and recessional songs, the FDL and Combined Honor Guard presented the flags, and Abrianna Schmidt sang the national anthem. The opening pipe ceremony was conducted by FDLTCC Dean of Indigenous and Academic Affairs, Roxanne DeLille, and musical numbers were performed by the Oshkii Gizhik Singers, FDLTCC faculty members Calland Metts and Elizabeth Jaakola. Many thanks to FDLTCC Registrar, Erica Gelo, and the FDLTCC Commencement Committee for their hard work coordinating the wonderful event for our students and community.

In total, 131 students were candidates to receive an associate in arts, associate in fine arts, associate in science, or associate in applied science degree from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College this year. The full list of this year’s graduates and a recording of the 2023 FDLTCC Commencement ceremony are below.


Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College – Class of 2023


Clermont, FL

Moises Rivera


Ewa Beach, HI

Kaimana Preza


Romeoville, IL

Nakari Caruth


Kansas City, KS

Jehoiada Goins


Aitkin, MN

Nicole Kemp


Barnum, MN

Tricia Gottschalk


Kortney Johnson

Christen Klejeski

Elise Lehto


Bena, MN

Trina Headbird


Bovey, MN

Tyler Odden


Brainerd, MN

Crystal Weckert


Carlton, MN

Alisha Broneak

Kathleen Dagger

Arianna Griak

Jenae Miller

Megan Sherman


Cloquet, MN

Hailey Anderson

Jennifer Anderson

Winnie Benjamin-Hall

Shantell Berglund

Emma Calverly

Wing Chambers

Parker Childs

Jessica Christley

Tamara Crotteau

Jessica Dixon

Hannah Durfee

Mary Jane Eagle

Jessica Esselstrom

Maya Fairbanks

Keeanna Farleigh

Lacie Farmer

Taya Flaim

Jasmine Hale

Melissa Harper

Saul Jeanetta

Anita Johnson

Brittney Kemi

Francene LaDeaux

Kristina LaFave

Maddy Lawrey

Jordan Leimer

Donald Lokken

Reid Markfort

Alyssa Merrill

Kristina Modich

Ella Oveson

Morgan Petoletti

Brady Petite

Lynn Reynolds

Tasheana Rule-Garcia

Jake Semo

Trinity Semo

Angela Teigland

Allie Tibbetts

Mariah Willie


Cotton, MN

Owen Erickson


Culver, MN

Zachary Johnson


Duluth, MN

Lincoln Bailey

Jessica Bendas

Marcella Cherne

Jennifer Erickson

Jacob Fritz

Brenna Gelineau

Jon  Hansen

Anna Hedman

Jennifer Hoffman

Alex Holmstrom

Zack Howard

Sami Hussein

Zoe Jones

Jonathan Laughlin

Preston Lee

Scott Lyytinen

Janaya Miller

Emma Miranda

Val  Morton

Kateri Ojibway

Jenna Olsen

Maxwell Peterson

Jacob Saari

Elizabeth Schilla

Grace  Simek

Jamie Wise

Mona Zeidan


Esko, MN

Addison Sertich

Jesica Wahlsten


Eveleth, MN

Jessa Behrman


Floodwood, MN

Abbie Suonvieri


Grand Marais, MN

Doran Acero


Hermantown, MN

Haylee Chalberg

Rebecca Towner


International Falls, MN

Owen Wherley


Isanti, MN

Jazzmin VanNett


Isle, MN

Mary Greene


Kerrick, MN

Olivia Lourey


Kettle River, MN

Jaharai Doward


Lake City, MN

Krysta Moore


McGregor, MN

Taria Aubid

Makayla Lightfeather


Minneapolis, MN

Louisa Lussier


Moose Lake, MN

Edward Couture


Onamia, MN

Tracy Opager

Thomasina Powell


Pine City, MN

Aaron Pulkrabek

Kensington Tayerle


Sandstone, MN

Alayna Matrious

Gracee Petersen

Miranda Solomon

Savage, MN

Terace Diver


Silver Bay, MN

Marcus Small


Sturgeon Lake, MN

Joni Johnson

Jasmine Tezak


Tamarack, MN

Kathryn DeMenge


Two Harbors, MN

Ryan Darsow


Wrenshall, MN

Joseph Bergman

Haleigh Peterson

Emma Port


Wright, MN

Elisabeth Kachinske


St. Charles, MO

Tyrone Eastern Jr.


Dewitt, NE

Dominic Smith


Farmington, NM

LeMonica Lopez


Houston, TX

Devoyne Provo-Smith


Ashland, WI

Sasha Couture


Mount Horeb, WI

Madeline Kraemer


Solon Springs, WI

Valerie Zhaawendaagozikwe


Springbrook, WI

Xavier Walt


Superior, WI

Kaden Kucza

Ashla Ojibway

Archie Yellow

Addie Young


Neebing, Ontario Canada

Daniel Walker



My favorite thing about FDLTCC is the people. I’ve met fantastic students, faculty and staff who go above and beyond what I expected.

It is awesome here at the FDLTCC Education Program because it is like a family here, if you need help or are struggling with anything, you have quite a few people who will help you out.

I chose FDLTCC because of its size and the curriculum. When I first came here in 2019, I was just looking for what I needed to volunteer, perhaps in a crisis shelter. I met with Don Jarvinen, and the rest is history.