Perpich News

Oliver Lee Cygan (Visual Arts 2016) Selected as Student Speaker for UMD Graduation

May 14, 2020

University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is honoring its 2020 graduates with a virtual commencement on Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. It will be a commencement for the history books with the COVID-19 pandemic and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order moving the ceremony to an online format. UMD Chancellor Lynn Black is sharing a recorded speech along with two student speakers, Oliver Lee Cygan and Katie Keller.

Oliver Lee Cygan (Visual Arts 2016) was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Following his time studying visual arts at Perpich Arts High School, he decided to attend UMD to study Environmental Science. Instead, after taking an introductory course on the recommendation of his roommate, he decided to switch his major to Communication. Additionally, he also minored in LGBTQ Studies, English, and Philosophy. He is adamant that choosing to take courses in a number of related fields was invaluable to him as a student, as he was able to borrow knowledge and a variety of methodologies and apply them across disciplines.

Beginning in his first year, he became an active member and volunteer of UMD’s Queer and Allied Student Union. As a sophomore, he became the organization’s chairperson, which he cites as being one of his most formative experiences in college, as he encountered the complexities of organizing and community-building. For his work in the organization, he received a Student Leadership Award from Kirby Student Center. Further on in his college career, he received honors from the Department of Communication, Sexuality and Gender Equity Initiatives, and the university-wide Office for Equity and Diversity for his commitment to both academic achievement and activism on campus.

Outside of his academic life, he enjoys making visual art, writing poetry, and hiking. Following graduation, he plans to keep his career options open while travelling, creating, and working.

Congratulations to Oliver Lee Cygan on this prestigious opportunity!