Boise State University’s winter Commencement honored graduates with a traditional ceremony and paid tribute to distinguished alumnus, true friend and champion for Boise State, Bill Ilett.
In total, 1,872 students were eligible to receive 2,093 degrees and certificates. Of those, 377 were eligible for honors: 233 cum laude, 120 magna cum laude and 24 summa cum laude. A full list of graduates organized by their home towns is available here.
Boise State awards more degrees each year than any other Idaho university — more than 4,000 this past year — and is home to Idaho’s largest graduate school. Twelve doctoral students received degrees this winter, in the smaller of the university’s two annual ceremonies.
Winter Commencement student speaker Kelly Larkin graduated with a degree in radiologic sciences. Larkin moved from Minnesota to attend Boise State about four years ago and quickly carved out a busy life for herself within the Boise State community, balancing an on-campus job and two radiologic technologist positions. She encouraged her fellow graduates to pursue their passions long after graduation.
“Each and every one of us has a passion, and some of us didn’t even know what that was until we came to Boise State,” she said. “I have been so blessed to have attended a university that not only taught me about the science but also my purpose.”
Ilett received the Silver Medallion, Boise State’s highest recognition of service to the university.
“He is a living example of the type of lifelong connection that we want to inspire in all of our graduates. He has been a consummate advocate and friend to Boise State and his efforts over the years have truly made a difference to our campus and to our students,” said Boise State Provost and Vice President Martin Schimpf.
Ilett began a long history with Boise State when he enrolled at Boise Junior College after serving in the Air Force Reserves in the 1960s. His time as a student was during the university’s transition from Boise Junior College to Boise State College, and he was among the first class of graduates to graduate with a four-year degree in 1967. He studied accounting and went on to work at a national CPA firm before going into the trucking industry, eventually owning the largest full-service truck leasing company in the Intermountain West.
As a student, he became active in student government and ultimately served as the first student body president for the newly named Boise State College. Upon graduating, he connected with his fellow students and immediately founded the Boise State Alumni Association. The Association celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – thanks in no small part to this early work by Ilett. He is a lifetime member of the Boise State Alumni Association and a member of both the Chaffee Guild and the Barnwell Society, organizations that recognize significant charitable giving to Boise State. He has served as chairman of the Boise State University Foundation Board and the College of Business and Economics advisory council. He is past president of the Boise State Alumni Association Board and has served as a member of the Bronco Athletic Association Board.
The Pesky Awards for Inspirational Teaching were presented to four outstanding teachers: Shelby Beck, Craig High School, Prince of Wales, Alaska; Melissa Bollinger, Victory Middle School, Meridian; Jodie Mink, Cambridge Jr./High School, Cambridge; and Jodi Wright, Adams Elementary School, Boise. Alan and Wendy Pesky, founders of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, created the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching with Boise State University’s College of Education through a mutual vision to honor and recognize inspiring teachers. This is the only known award of its kind in the country.