Seattle Pacific University held its commencement Saturday, barely a week after the campus shooting that killed one student and injured two others. Although the school community continues to mourn, the commencement offered one bright spot: The university is creating the Jon Meis Scholarship to honor the Seattle shooting hero who stopped the gunman from harming more students. The announcement was made at Saturday's graduation ceremony, where Meis received not only his diploma, but also a standing ovation from students and their friends and family.
According to The Associated Press, the scholarship will be given to students majoring in engineering, Meis' field of study. Meis was working as a volunteer security guard when the alleged shooter, 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, entered Otto Miller Hall June 5. As Ybarra paused to reload his shotgun, eyewitnesses said Meis pepper sprayed the shooter, then grabbed his neck and wrestled him to the ground. Meis held him down until authorities arrived.
The Seattle Police Department said there would have been more causalities if it wasn't for Meis' bravery and quick thinking. "Regular citizens stepped up, and they tried to do the right thing," said Assistant Chief Police Paul McDonagh in a press conference. "In this case, I believe they prevented an even more horrible tragedy.”
Meis also received some astounding generosity last week. After news of his heroism spread, Meis' wedding registry was filled by anonymous donors thanking him for his actions. Meis and his fiancee are getting married June 21.
Seattle Pacific University commencement activities began Friday with an ivy cutting ceremony, a 92-year-old tradition for the small, private Christian college. Graduating seniors gather in Tiffany Loop, a tree-lined courtyard on campus, and are encircled by ivy. Faculty and administration members then cut the ivy connecting the seniors. Each graduate receives a sprig of ivy to keep.
According to the university, more than 1,200 students graduated on Saturday at Seattle's Key Arena. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund, gave the commencement address.