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Michigan college closes doors, hosts commencement for final graduating class

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After more than a century, a university in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has celebrated its last group of graduates.

Nearly 100 graduates crossed a stage Sunday at Finlandia University, which had announced in March that it would close, citing debt, low enrollment and other challenges.

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“This is not a funeral,” Stephen Nikander, whose great-grandfather founded what began as Suomi College, told graduates. “Commencement means beginning. As your post-collegiate lives begin, know that you received a unique valuable learning experience here.”

Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan will soon cease operations, with its final commencement ceremony having been held Sunday.

Marissa Schilling, who received a bachelor’s degree in nursing, was the last graduate on stage. She also played on the soccer team.

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“I never thought it would come to be the last graduating class, but it feels good,” she told The Daily Mining Gazette. “Like they were saying, it’s not an ending but a new beginning. … I’ve built up some good memories.”

Finlandia was founded in 1896 as Suomi College by Finnish Lutheran immigrants. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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Finlandia had more than 600 students at its peak but recently had less than 400.



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