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Jillian Knight named College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student

Posted August 13, 2020

A North Minneapolis resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Jillian Knight graduates summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts, minoring in history, and is chosen Outstanding Student to represent the university’s College of Liberal Arts. Metropolitan State’s 106th Commencement will take place as a virtual graduation exercise on Aug. 15. With spring and summer 2020 semesters together, Metropolitan State is conferring 791 bachelors, 80 masters, and 17 doctoral degrees. Since 1971, Metropolitan State University has conferred 46,003 bachelor’s degrees, 4,158 master’s degrees and 105 doctoral degrees. Knight will also be a speaker at the President’s Reception, hosted to recognize the Outstanding Students and other university honorees.

Knight returned to university in 2016, seeking to make a change from her career as medical assistant, where she had spent many years. Her mother, a 1986 psychology alum, recommended Metropolitan State.

“I was highly encouraged by my father to return to school and study something I would find more fulfilling,” Knight says. “I was impressed by the diversity of the school and its willingness to partner with and encourage working adults, like myself.”

Unsure of her direction, Knight started with classes that complimented her strengths in communication. With the help of an attentive and caring professors, she decided to become a teacher.

“Teachers have been compassionate and motivating figures throughout my life. If I could be that for someone else someday, I'd feel immense fulfillment,” Knight says. “This teacher became my advisor and suggested I pursue the liberal arts major at Metropolitan State. This program essentially allowed me to customize my education. I was able to tailor my classes to my goals and get the most out of my time at Metro.”

Knight now plans to transition out of the medical field and into substitute teaching. She hopes to build experience as a substitute teacher, as she applies to graduate programs, with special attention to Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education.

She is an active volunteer with the Minnesota Historical Society. She lives in Northeast Minneapolis with her fiancé, Matt, and their four pets; dogs, Lily and Buffy; and cats, Drea and Scary Brandon (yes, that is his actual name). Knight grew up in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota and is a 2006 graduate of Spring Lake Park High School. In her spare time, she enjoys art, mostly drawing and photography, and also music, all of which she hopes to engage in more of before starting graduate school.


Each fall and spring semester, colleges at Metropolitan State nominate students for the Outstanding Student and Outstanding Graduate Student awards. Nominees are evaluated on the basis of their academic performance in their degree program, as well as achievements in their community and professional contributions. All finalists are recognized in the commencement program, outstanding students receive special recognition during commencement, and are eligible to speak at commencement.

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities’ public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.