ABERDEEN, S.D. – A lot of proud parents will attend Northern
State University’s graduation on Saturday, but two will get to play a special role in the commencement ceremony in honor of their son.
Greg and Jeanette Anglin will accept a degree on behalf of Bryce Anglin, a Northern student who passed away in 2012. They will walk in and sit with the other graduates, and they will walk across the Johnson Fine Arts Center stage to receive the degree.
It’ll be a bittersweet moment for the Anglins, but Jeanette pointed out that the moment is not about them – it’s about Bryce.
“It’s happening because of the type of person Bryce was and still is today to a lot of people,” she said. “If Bryce was still alive, and whether it was the spring 2013 or winter 2013 commencement, he would be as happy and proud for his fellow graduates as he would himself. After a lot of hard work, he knew what an exciting time this would be for classmates, friends and family."
Bryce, a Wolves baseball player who was very active on campus, would have graduated at last spring’s commencement. That is when the Anglins learned that NSU officials were looking into the possibility of a posthumous degree for their son. Last week, they learned from NSU President Dr. Jim Smith that the degree had been officially approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents.
Bachelor of Science in Marketing
Bryce will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the NSU School of Business. Greg Anglin is also a graduate of the NSU School of Business. The Anglins’ daughter, Erin, is also a Northern grad, as are Greg’s mother and grandmother. All three received teaching degrees. Family members are planning to attend the ceremony, including Erin Anglin and Bryce’s brother, Brian Anglin.
The Anglins are glad that Bryce’s degree was approved now, when many of the students graduating went to school with their son.
One of those students is Chuck Regan. Regan, of Jamestown, N.D., said he met Bryce when he toured NSU, and has known him ever since.
Smart, Funny, Family-Oriented
“Bryce was a kid that could make you just burst out laughing,” he said. “He was very good at that.”
He was also smart, Regan said, and when he put his mind to something, he was going to accomplish it. That includes graduating from Northern. Regan said he has kept in contact with the Anglins, and they told him the good news that Bryce would be receiving a degree. Regan is receiving two bachelor’s degrees on Saturday – one in marketing and one in business management – and it means a lot to him to be able to graduate with Bryce.
“I’m so glad that this could happen for such a great family,” he said. “Out of a tragedy, there’s still hope for good things to happen. I’m just so happy that Bryce got to be recognized by the university for the hard work that he put into his education. He has an awesome family, and it’s good that they’re able to accept the award on his behalf.”
Northern was Home
The Anglins remember moving their son into Jerde Hall – really just a block away from their home near campus. Bryce was a little anxious the first day, they said, but by day two, he knew he was where he wanted to be.
“You’re right,” Bryce told them. “It’s gonna be great.”
Bryce was no stranger to NSU. Living so close to Northern, he was finding his way over to the Barnett Center as early as age 7, shooting baskets with college basketball players and hanging out with college baseball players. After the first couple of times, the Anglins said they had no worries letting him go on his own since the campus had such a family atmosphere.
While he was recruited to play baseball at other schools, Bryce ultimately chose NSU, they believe, because it offered a strong business program as well as the opportunity to play baseball.
The family is now thankful their son decided to attend school so nearby.
“Can you imagine what it would be like if this happened and he was at a school eight hours away?” Greg Anglin asked. “We would have missed out on those last three years.”
On March 13, 2012, Bryce was diagnosed with a rare form of testicular cancer. On April 24, 2012, he passed away at age 21.
Bryce Nation Foundation
The Anglins now run the Bryce Nation Foundation,
which performs charitable works and awards scholarships. The foundation has awarded scholarships to NSU and Aberdeen Central students. It has also given awards to Bryce’s elementary and middle schools, May Overby and Simmons. The Bryce Nation Foundation has also done a lot of work with the Aberdeen Smitty baseball program and Brown County Relay for Life.
During Bryce’s illness and afterward, the Anglins discovered their son had more friends than they ever dreamed possible – all of whom offered the family an immense amount of support.
“It was amazing,” Greg Anglin said. “It just kind of floors you. That’s all because of him.”
Greg said they can’t thank the Northern community enough for helping to continue Bryce’s legacy.
“Everybody’s been more supportive than we could have ever expected.”
To the Anglins, receiving the degree from NSU is the ultimate honor and perfect culmination of months of support from the university that their son loved.
“Of everything done at Northern since, this would probably be the most that he would be thankful for,” Greg Anglin said. “We couldn't be more grateful to President Smith, his NSU team and the Board of Regents and their diligence in making this a reality for Bryce and Bryce Nation."
Photo: Bryce Anglin