Commencement Speech: "You are Strong!"

by Adam Setmeyer | May 14, 2014

By: Kelly Hoehn, ‘14

Faculty, staff, fellow graduates, family, and friends. I would like to take this time to talk about our four Franciscan Sponsorship values and how they set us apart, make us unique. As senior class president as well as through involvement in campus ministry I have been able to interact with many of my fellow graduates and can see how these values are present in their lives and have shaped their education here. As we leave Marian and enter the “real world” these values will help us on our journeys.

Here at Marian the Franciscan values are not only all around us, on the fountain, the wall of the dining hall, and banners in the chapel, they are also a part of the curriculum and a foundation for the way we interact with each other. Before I go any further I should let all of our guests know what these values are: Dignity of the Individual, Responsible Stewardship, Peace and Justice and Reconciliation.

Through Campus Ministry I was able to participate in a Peace and Justice retreat where we brought meals to the homeless. One man we met, Malachi, gave us some advice: “don’t judge. You don’t know what people are going through and everyone has struggles, but everyone has dignity.” We were bringing meals thinking we were the ones helping him and he was the one teaching us about Dignity of the individual.  As we graduate and leave Marian University I hope that we all heed Malachi’s advice and respect each person’s dignity. And remember that we will continue to learn even after we leave Marian. Lara Kuczmanski, who is graduating from the Catholic School Educators program, told me that when she encouraged one of her first graders saying that practice makes perfect he responded “no Miss K practice makes progress…Only Jesus is perfect!” Everyone has a lesson to teach us.

Another value is responsible stewardship, we each came here with talents and desires, likes and dislikes, we received an education where we were able to develop those talents so they were able to multiply and now we are going out into the world as people who can make a difference, strong in the knowledge and practices that we have learned.

Artists you have developed your talents and are able to open our eyes to issues in new and creative ways, like senior Peter Hayes does in the canvas which he created as part of his senior art portfolio “Blood on Our Hands”. He draws attention to the prevalence of violence in our society, making one stop and think. He and each of us are able to use our talents to make a difference.

Peace and Justice is described as “challenging one another to venture into new creative responses to ever-changing needs”. At Marian we were never encouraged to just find a job, we were encouraged to discover where our passions and the needs of the world meet. (Seeing as how I couldn’t find where my passion for Star Wars met the needs of the world I decided to pursue other passions and for the past four years have studied Political Science) Needless to say studying Political Science is often associated with joining the darkside and yes the senior political science majors do refer to ourselves as the sinister six however, political science can be used for good.  Matt Duncan, Jess Stark, and Stephanie Torres will all be attending law school, one to be a law maker, one to create healthcare policy, and one to be a lawyer. In each of our fields we are seeking to find new creative ways to respond to the needs of the world.

Reconciliation calls us to be “aware of the pain, brokenness, and pervading grief in our society” Both nursing and psychology majors are able to heal and bring reconciliation to the pain and brokenness in society through their work with the sick or suffering. My roommate of the past 4 years, Stacy Vervynckt, a Psychology major has always been one to help others talk through their problems or to just listen when friends need someone to talk to. After grad school she hopes to do family counseling, helping to bring reconciliation to familial relationships. She will take the talents that she has developed here and share them with others to help bring reconciliation.

In each of our areas of study we have not only received an education but also learned values and practices that will help us the rest of our lives. So thank you to all of our professors and other staff members for forming us intellectually. A special thank you to our campus ministry folks who have helped form us spiritually. Thank you to Campus Operations for helping to make Marian a home by making campus a beautiful place. Thank you to our families for supporting us on our journey. Lastly, thank you to my fellow students, we not only learned with each other but also learned from each other.

I would like to close with some additional advice from my friend Malachi: “You are strong! You can make a difference! Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.”

Meeting people through student government
Getting involved in student government helped Oluwabanwo Adeniyi '21 feel like she’s part of the campus community.
Watch Bami's story
Building relationships with faculty and coaches
After he explored his college options, Conor Smith '20 decided to choose Marian because of his interest in athletics and exercise science.
Read Conor's story
Following her dream to be a dentist
After graduating cum laude with Marian's Class of 2017, Chrislyn (Church) Fite is well on her way.
Read Chrislyn's story

© 2017 Marian University
Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.