Many months or years of hard work and perseverance paid off for 61 Donnelly College students as they completed studies for Gateway to College, Practical Nursing, Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees or certificates.
The 2016 commencement ceremony — held Saturday, May 14, at the Jack Reardon Civic Center — provided time for reflection and celebration for graduates, family members and friends.
Two graduate candidates spoke on behalf of the student body: Austin Garrett (AA) and Denise Suarez Gomez (BS).
Garrett spoke to the support he received at Donnelly, along with mentioning many faculty and staff members who impacted his life.
"I never expected to be giving a graduation speech, especially in college," he said. "But that's why I consider Donnelly a land of opportunity.
"If you wanted to do something [at Donnelly], it was actually going to get done. The support was there to help you."
Suarez Gomez found her place at Donnelly after struggling to feel a connection at other schools.
"Donnelly is a place for anyone," she said. "The doors are open. There's a school that's willing to take us and grow us and allow us to be who we need to be.
"For me, Donnelly is the lighthouse. It is community. Without this school, many of us wouldn't be achieving our dreams."
Palomarez shared three key pieces of advice with graduates: mindset is more important than skill set; keep friends close who bring out the best in you and do not measure wealth in dollars, but rather in the fulfillment of your life's purpose.
"One day, we’ll all marvel at the remarkable contributions that you’ve made to our country, the communities you’ve served, the careers you’ve built and the countless lives you’ve touched," he said. "In fact, we’re already amazed by what you’ve accomplished."
Additionally, he noted the importance of educating the whole person, as Donnelly strives to do with its liberal arts and Catholic traditions.
"For over half a century, this school has encouraged its students to observe the miraculous world around them and the moral code within," he said. "The education you’ve received here has given you the power to defy expectations and prove to the world that today’s 'millennials' will be tomorrow’s greatest generation."
Gateway to College
Practical Nursing Certificate
Associate of Arts
Ahmed Al Hamami*
Roger Berg, III
Martha Rodriguez Torres
Associate of Applied Science
Associate of Science
Bachelor of Applied Science
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science
* Member of Phi Theta Kappa
Note: We apologize for any