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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Satire — CAMS student discovers he graduated three years ago

Dallas Wiertella/NW
SURPRISE GRADUATION — T.J. Tockenson’s dusty and forgotten diploma, waiting to be received. Tockenson was deeply surprised when he realized he graduated from Northern three years ago.

After three years of being denied registration from classes, not being able to secure a parking pass, and not having a valid student ID, T.J. Tockenson, a student in the communication and media studies department (CAMS), finally approached the dean of students office out of frustration, only to find out he graduated three years prior in 2020. 

Tockenson started his college career in the fall of 2016, pursuing a bachelors in multimedia journalism, after completing all required courses in the winter semester of 2019, Tockenson was told he still needed to complete 24 credits of electives. His career evaluation shows that he had completed said credits, but after the winter of 2020 (his supposed graduation) Tockenson was still seen roaming campus.

“I remember working on a directed study at the time along with my internship at [the local newspaper],” Tockenson said. “But my professor never emailed me back what I was supposed to be doing and my boss at the paper kept giving me stories to write, so I just assumed they were both still going.”

Don Donchuliuos, the editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, had apparently known of Tockenson’s supposed internship and its completion in May of 2020, but he assumed Tockenson was just contributing in his own free time after that.

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“I never had him on payroll, he just kept writing so I kept sending him story ideas. I didn’t even publish most of them since we had writers working on columns, but he never asked about it so I just kept the ball rolling,” Donchuliuos said. “I didn’t even know the kid graduated myself.” 

We reached out to Dr. Zeke Squelch, the professor advising Tockenson’s directed study, a study of news in podcasting, but our questions will remain unanswered as he has not responded to our emails. 

“Yeah, my podcast has reached its three hundredth episode and has gained a lot of attention. I was even offered sponsorships to start making some money but since it was for a class I never accepted any,” Tockenson said. “I’ve been paying for my rent with student loans this whole time.”

When asked why he hasn’t contacted anyone sooner, looked at myNMU or even EduCat, Tockenson responded with “what kinda cat?” 

Tockenson is set to receive his degree with this winter’s graduating class, along with an honorary minor in student affairs for his extended experience and commitment to being a student even after graduation.

“I guess I’ll just go back to writing for the paper and continuing my podcast,” Tockenson said. “Come to think of it, that is what I was doing during my time here anyway so why did I even need this degree?”

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About the Contributor
Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella, Multimedia Editor
Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim to highlight human achievement in whatever way I can!