DePaul School of Continuing and Professional Studies | Spring 2020 Online Commencement

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Congratulationsto the graduating class of DePaul University. You’ve done it! It’s graduation day! You are the first classof the decade. After countless hoursof studying, prepping for class… I congratulate youon your great success. We are so happyto have been part of your professionaland educational lives. Life kind of threw youa curveball there at the end– not kind of,it totally did. You’ve worked very hardto come to this point. Your creativity, dedication,and resilience are an inspirationto all of us. Many of you have been workingat your college degree for many, many years, and you should be very proudof your accomplishments. You’ve prevailed. You’ve had lots of challenges, but you’ve made your dreamcome true. I wish we couldall be together, cheering and clappingand celebrating with you. But please know,we are with you. We adore and respectall that you’ve taken on. I know I speakon behalf of the faculty when I tell you how much betteryou’ve made our lives over the last few years, and especially overthe last couple months. You all came fromliterally all over. You are extraordinary artists. I’m floored every dayby the talent that I see in all of you. I am sad to see you go but so excited to think about the change that you aregoing to create in this world. I know that you will go onand do amazing things. We’re not just training youfor jobs, and we certainly hopewe’re doing that, but we are, moreover,training you for your life’s work. I wish you nothing but the best as you start this next chapterin your life. And I believeyou will make the world a much better place. Congratulations,Class of 2020.

From all of us herefrom the bottom of our hearts, congratulations on allthat you’ve accomplished. We tip our hatto all of your efforts and wish you the bestin all of your endeavors. The world is yoursfor the taking, so dream bigand go chase your dreams. Congratulations,Class of 2020. You made it. ♪ ♪ Members of the faculty, staff, administration, honored guests,and of course, our graduates, I’m Salma Ghanem,Interim Provost for DePaul University. Welcome to our121st commencement, DePaul’s very firstonline ceremony. We very much wish we couldall be together right now, and we plan to do soto celebrate together as soon as it’s safe. Until then, we celebrate todayin this online space because the DePaul communitywould never pass up an opportunity to applaud you,the Class of 2020, and your many accomplishments. Commencement is one ofthe most meaningful ceremonies of a student’s academic career, and a DePaul commencementis anything but ordinary. As a Catholic Vincentianuniversity, we share a commitmentto uphold the dignity of every single person, and we call thatVincentian personalism. Just like we do every year,each student will be recognized. We want to give every studenttheir moment because that’s the DePaul way.

It’s also why we encourageall the students, family members,and friends watching to stay until the end, especially because our ceremonywill conclude with a special alumni guest, Joe Keery, from the hit Netflixseries, Stranger Things. Now, we knowthat the Class of 2020 faced many challengesthis past quarter. In a matter of days, you had to pivotto all-remote learning. Many of you had to dashback home. Through it all, though, you demonstrated patienceand understanding as your facultytransitioned to teach more than 4,000 classesremotely. Your world was turnedupside-down, but you persevered. That’s not surprising to us because throughout your timeat DePaul, you navigated obstaclesand rose to the challenge. How? Well, throughout your timeat DePaul, your class dedicatedat least 300,000 hours to academic internships; 2,559 of you are membersof the Honor Society; 200 undergraduate studentsin the Class of 2020 completed double majors; more than a thousand of you, or roughly about 17 percentof your graduating class, participated instudy abroad programs; you danced more than 70 hoursfor DemonTHON, raising approximately $811,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospitalof Chicago; your Theatre School presentedmore than 300 productions, and the School of Music offerednearly 1,000 performances. Yeah, and yes,you also helped consume two million meals served on our Lincoln Parkand Loop Campuses, all during your time at DePaul.

If you’re watchingtoday’s ceremony, though, with a loved one, a friend,or a family member, turn to them nowand say, “Thank you,” and if you’re physically apartfrom many of the ones you love, take a momentand send them a message to express your gratitude. Don’t ever forgetall the people who helped you getto this moment in your academic career, including, of course,the faculty and staff who shared their talentand wisdom with you. Now, it is your responsibility to carry their teachingsforward. On behalf of the entireDePaul community, congratulations! We can’t wait to seewhat you do next. Now it’s my privilegeto introduce Reverend Guillermo Campuzano,Congregation of the Mission, and Vice Presidentof Mission and Ministry, who will delivertoday’s invocation, followed by the National Anthemsung by John Concepcion. For those who wish to do so,please join me in prayer. Loving God,today is graduation day, a passage, a completion,a new beginning. Today, we pray in thanksgiving for DePaul University’sClass of 2020. Our students,with the help of faculty, staff, family, and friends,have met the challenges and kept the faith to the commitmentsof their studies, and they’re becomingthe kind of people they want to and can bein our society. God, the graduationof this year happens in the contextof the most challenging events of our generation. It is in the challenging momentsthat You refine us. The joy that our studentsare experiencing today cannot be stolen. We will do well to remember that nothing can stealour joy and our peace when they are a giftthat comes from our inner self. Please, do not allowour many trials of today, as difficult as they may seem, to distract usfrom rejoicing and celebrating this meaningful momentin the lives of so many in our DePaul family. In this context,it can be tempting for us to forget to be joyful, yet it is in the challengingmoments of life that you prove yourself close,friendly, faithful. You are always with us. Our joy today is not derivedfrom our comfort, but it is a joythat is happening despite our uncomfort in this,our distance, our inability to gather,to hug, and to say goodbye. Our joy comes from our belief that no matterwhat is happening, none of us is alone. We will continue to reach outand to support each other. Please, dear God,continue to educate us all, especiallyour graduating students, and shape us more completely into the human beingswe need to be to go throughthe fire together and to prevailas one human family.

Good and loving God,please bless and guide our graduatesas they reach this end and as they chartnew beginnings. May what they have learnedby being here, with usin our Vincentian classrooms, allow them to truly bewomen and men for others. May what we have learnedfrom them enable us to be the same. Please help our graduatesuse all that they have learned to serve othersin true solidarity and kindness, to seek ways to help the poor,the marginalized, and those who are suffering, and to always seekthe greater good and make our worlda better place. Finally, God, we thank You for giving us the opportunityto build our DePaul community with these, our students,while they were here. Though they are leaving, now,our campuses, we know that they willalways be with us as part of the DePaul family, and we ask that the bondsthat have been created here remain strongdespite any distance. Bless and protect themand all those they love. Amen. ♪ O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’slast gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripesand bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O say does thatstar-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? ♪♪ Congratulations,Class of 2020. Among the 121 classeswho have graduated from DePaul University, yours, the Class 2020, is the most distinguished oneof them all, and here’s why. First,you all are amazing! I stand herein deep admiration of all that you accomplished. You are outstanding scholars. You earned your degreesfrom DePaul, a university knownfor its academic excellence and its missionto serve the public good. St. Vincent de Paulcalled upon us to answer the question,”What must be done?” You all have risento that challenge, often amid obstaclesin your own lives. Each of youhas pursued your dream to better your life and to better the livesof those around you. Many of you are drivenprecisely because you recognize that you are the role modelsto the younger generations.

You seek to better yourselves,your families, your communities,your workplaces. In awe, I have watched you,the Class of 2020, pursue your DePaul educationwith the utmost passion, vigor, resilience, often amid so many claimson your lives. Each and every one of youis a true inspiration. Furthermore, your classis distinguished as the one that made itto graduation despite theextraordinary challenges posed by thiscoronavirus pandemic. And I’m especially gratefulto those of you who are the essential workerswho, within this crisis, are sustainingthe well-being of all of us. Thank you. Here we are, participating in DePaul’svery first virtual commencement. Despite our disappointmentthat we could not gather together in person, rest assured, your distinguished classwill be remembered for many generations to come. And that brings meto another reason why your Class of 2020is so special. Yours is the first classto graduate under the banner of the new School of Continuingand Professional Studies. You are marshalling inan historic age in adult learninghere at DePaul. This is a stagethat builds upon the mission of the formerSchool for New Learning. The educationthat you received leveraged your priorknowledge and experience, developed your competenciesin the liberal arts and professional studies, and set you on a pathof lifelong learning. We look forwardto you continuing to apply your learningto serve the public good. Like you,I am a graduate of DePaul. As your dean and nowyour fellow alumnus, I am so very proudof each and every one of you. Again, congratulations,Class of 2020. Now it is my honor to introduceyour fellow classmate and our studentcommencement speaker, LaTonja Dotson. LaTonja’san administrative coordinator in the Marketing departmentof ComEd. During her time at DePaul,she studied marketing and participated in the National Societyof Collegiate Scholars as well as the AlphaSigma Lambda Honor Society. She’s a proud first-generationcollege graduate, and she hopes to eventually runher own digital marketing firm. Please welcome LaTonja. Welcome, proud parents, loving spouses,supporting family, and amazing friends. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledgemy fellow rock star graduates. We made it. We started it,we endured, and we conquered! Even though this momentmay not be the way that we’ve envisioned, we’re all still herecelebrating. Let’s give ourselvesa round of applause for such an achievement. We did it! (applauds) It is such an honor to speakwith you all today virtually and representthe Class of 2020. We are the Class of 2020.

We’re the first graduating classof SCPS. I want to take a momentto thank everyone that has expressedtheir support and guided meto give this speech. I also want to thankmy loving husband and son for always being thereand knowing my endgame and pushing me whenever my determinationmay have wavered. We did it. So, my journey startedthe year I turned 40. In the beginning, I wrestled with the idea if this wasmy midlife crisis moment. But that line of thinkingonly manifested shame. I was ashamedof being a college student that was obtainingan undergrad degree at my age. Who would have thoughtthat one lone commitment of returning to schoolafter 22 years resulted in receivinga B.A. degree? A girl who was raisedin a single-parent home with her mother, brother,grandmother, and uncles. A mother who instilledthe importance of education into her son. A woman who never gave up and is now representingher family as a first-generationcollege graduate. There is so muchexcitement in the air, and it’s all abouteach of you. Our entire community, our professors,our parents, spouses, grandparents,aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters who are allso very proud of us today. And also, let’s not forgetabout our children, that have watched us spendtimeless days, nights, and weekends studying. For some, this may bethe end of the road, and for others, you’re going on to receiveyour master’s degree. Whichever point you are at,always remember: You did it, never give up, it’s never too late, and most importantly,you can do anything. DePaul believesin the dignity and promise that every studentand their ability to impact our worldpositively. This brings to minda quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned thatyou shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitton both hands. You need to be ableto throw something back.” So that smileyou receive from a stranger, throw it backto another stranger. The help you receivedaround the house from your spouse and family while we were on our missionto achieve what we have accomplishedhere on this day? Throw that back. The knowledge you’ve acquiredthrough all your classes, when presentedwith an opportunity to tutor, mentor, or even give a little assistanceas pertaining to scholastics? Throw your giftback out there.

Trust me. I know that everyoneyou may throw a gift to won’t be playingwith an open glove. Maybe their headisn’t in the game and they’re unfocused. Perhaps the gamehas them stressed out, in need ofsome encouragement. This is whenwe need to be the solution. Throw them your gifts, no matter if you thinkthey’re ready or not. Give an opportunity. Encourage the hopeless to live a lifewith no regard for failure. Expand the deflatedwith love and attention. Throw back patienceto the difficult instead of frustration. Speak triumphto the defeated instead of patronization. I think the Golden Ruleis an excellent model to use when throwing back. Do unto othersas you would have them do unto you. So, the time you madeavailable in your life to complete assignmentsbefore the deadline, or participatingin discussion boards before midnight? It’s all over. Never forgetwhere you came from, or how difficultit may have been when you were there. When you were all alone, wishing someone would throwsome positivity your way, while prayingthat one day, you would not only be the sourceof your own positivity, but the causefor others’ as well. I know you can do it. Today is proof of that. We did it, SCPS. Now, let’s throw it back. ♪ The Dean will nowpresent the candidates for the Conferral of Degrees. ♪ President Esteban, on behalf of the facultyand staff of the School of Continuingand Professional Studies, I respectfully presentthe candidates and recommend thatthe announced degrees be conferred upon them. ♪ By the authorityvested in me by the Board of Trusteesand the state of Illinois, I confer upon youthe degree for which you havebeen recommended, with all the rights,privileges, and responsibilitiesappertaining thereunto. ♪ The following candidateshave successfully completed the requirementsand have been awarded their respective degrees. ♪ Members ofthe Vincentian Community and the clergy, Trustees,Life Trustees, faculty,administration, staff,and honored guests, I’m Gabriel Esteban, Presidentof DePaul University. Thank you for joining ustoday to celebrate the DePaul UniversityClass of 2020. Your presence,even in this online space, means everything to us. This was not the yearor the commencement ceremony anyone expected, and I am inspiredby the tenacity and drive the Class of 2020has demonstrated throughout this time. I am also extremely gratefulto all the faculty and staff who made the swift transitionto remote learning, as well asthe many people who made today’s onlinecommencement ceremony possible. I especially would liketo recognize the membersof the DePaul community who continuedto report to campus throughoutthe Spring Quarter. DePaul UniversityClass of 2020, the worldis a scary place right now. Graduating from collegealways comes with a degreeof uncertainty. Is this the right jobfor me? Am I choosingthe right path? Will I achievemy dreams? I know all your questionsare magnified right now, and it’s okayto feel scared. Now, more than ever, the world needsDePaul graduates. There are morethan 6,000 students in the Class of 2020, and the world needsevery single one of you. We need entrepreneurs,economists, and hospitality leaders. Journalists,filmmakers, computer scientists,and game designers. Teachers, counselors,writers, artists, diplomats,and historians. Nurses,psychologists, scientists,and mathematicians. Musicians and actors.

The world needsDePaul graduates because you knowwhat it takes to succeed. You know howto roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takesto get the job done. You understand the importanceof giving back. And you have the courageto ask, “What must be done?” At DePaul,our Catholic Vincentian mission to serve the public good is at the heartof everything we do. We have taught youto fight for social justice, help thosemost in need, listen,and be kind. Please keepour Vincentian values close to your heart. Be mindfulof the responsibility that comeswith a DePaul diploma. The diplomathat bears the name of St. Vincent de Paul. DePaul UniversityClass of 2020, you are ready to servea changing world, transformedby your DePaul education, grounded in mission. Make us proud. The last stepin your journey at DePaul is to be inductedinto the alumni community. It is my distinct honorto introduce our special alumni guest,Joe Keery, who graduated fromThe Theatre School in 2014, and now playsSteve Harrington on the hit Netflix series,Stranger Things. DePaul has always been proudto call Joe one of our own, and my wife and Iare big fans of his work. We’re very gratefulhe could join us today to celebratethe Class of 2020. Please welcome Joe Keery. Hi, everybody,my name is Joe Keery. I’m an alumniof DePaul University, Class of 2014,from The Theatre School, and I’m honored to bethis year’s Alumni Inductor and to welcomethe Class of 2020 into the Alumni Association. So, congratulations,Class of 2020. When I thinkabout my time at DePaul, I think aboutall the hard work. I mean, DePaul really conditionstheir students to work. If you ask any of the studentsat The Theatre School, they’re definitelyworking very hard. It really conditioned meto fill my days doing the thingthat I love to do, and then work towards goalsthat I really set for myself. So, now, more than ever,as graduates, and kind of giventhe current state of the world, I think it’s really importantto keep your foot on the gas and to really go afterevery single opportunity, to makeyour own opportunities. If you work hard at somethingthat you love to do, and you can makea living doing it, then you won’t have to worka day in your life. That’s always beenmy mentality, and I feel so luckyto be able to do the workthat I’m able to do. And it wouldn’t havebeen possible, truly, without DePaul. I look backon my time there so fondly. All the friendsthat I’ve made, all the experiencesthat I had. But, truly,now the real fun begins, because you get to takeeverything that you’ve learned and everything thatyou’ve worked towards at DePauland put it to use. And now you can startthis new chapter in your life and always look back fondlyat your time at DePaul. So, congratulations again, and now to inductthe Class of 2020. Inscribed upon this scrollare the names of the members of DePaul University’s121st graduating class, the Class of 2020. We acceptthese graduates into the DePaul UniversityAlumni Association. Members ofthe 121st graduating class, we welcome youto the next step in your lifelong connectionwith DePaul. As students of yesterday,graduates today, and alumni forever, you are now part of aneven larger DePaul community of over 190,000 alumniliving around the world.

The continued vitalityof DePaul University depends uponeach of us as alumni, and our pledge of commitmentand service to the university. We invite youto accept membership by moving your tasselfrom the right to the left as a symbolic gestureof your transformation from a studentof DePaul University to a lifelong learnerand citizen of the world. Graduates,please move your tassels, you should really do it, and congratulationsto the Class of 2020. (applauds) ♪

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