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Making the hard work worth it: Don Shelton to speak at University of Idaho graduation

UPDATED: Fri., May 13, 2022

University of Idaho graduate Don Shelton (1976) will be the commencement speaker Saturday at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center in Moscow, Idaho.  (Seattle Times)
University of Idaho graduate Don Shelton (1976) will be the commencement speaker Saturday at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center in Moscow, Idaho. (Seattle Times)
By Kali Nelson Moscow-Pullman Daily News

MOSCOW — When Don Shelton graduated from the University of Idaho in 1976, he never imagined one day he’d be the executive editor of the Seattle Times, or that he’d return to teach at his alma mater. And now he is the commencement speaker.

Almost 50 years after he attended his first class at the university, Shelton teaches journalism classes, is an adviser for his old fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, and is a member of the School of Journalism and Mass Media Advisory board.

When he got the email asking him to be the Moscow campus commencement speaker, Shelton said he was shocked and joked that “there’s got to be somebody more important than me.” But he accepted the offer, and is ready to step up to the task.

The spring 2022 University of Idaho graduation ceremonies are set for 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center in Moscow. The ceremonies in Boise and Idaho Falls took place earlier in the week.

At the 9:30 a.m. graduation, students from the Colleges of Art and Architecture; Education, Health and Human Sciences; Law; and Letters, Arts and Social Sciences will receive their degrees. Graduates from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Business and Economics; Engineering; Natural Resources; and Science will receive their degrees at 2 p.m.

Shelton stayed away from advice in his speech. Instead, he wants to highlight the hard work the students have put in to get where they are despite the challenges of the last few years. If he did have to give advice, though, he said he wants students to stay connected to wear they came from.

“Don’t get disconnected. Come back, give back,” Shelton said. “You’ll be repaid tenfold whatever you put into it.”

Shelton is the only speaker at the Moscow campus, but each campus’s commencement had a different speaker. At the Boise ceremony, there was Luis Cortes Romero, a managing partner in Novo Legal Group’s Washington office, and the Idaho Falls campus had Scott Gramer, the director of the Cybercore Integration Center at Idaho National Laboratory.

At the Moscow campus, there are 1,045 bachelor’s degrees, 259 master’s degrees, 55 law degrees, 49 doctoral degrees and three specialists.

“You know, it’s hard — everybody thinks they had had a tough, you know, walk two miles uphill without shoes to school, all that stuff,” Shelton said. “But these guys really had a rough time and when you look, you look at what they went through. It’s pretty incredible.”

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