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McNichols Campus Commencement Speech

University of Detroit Mercy
McNichols Campus Commencement Speech
May 10, 2014
Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.


Thank you, Dr. Hazen. Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sr. Rosita Schiller; Trustees Brian Cloyd and Fr. John Staudenmaier; today’s honoree and speaker, Fr. Gerard Stockhausen; University of Detroit Mercy Faculty, Staff, and Students; Parents, Spouses, Relatives and Friends of the 2014 Graduating Class; and most especially, the 2014 Graduating Class of University of Detroit Mercy. Welcome to today’s ceremony! And congratulations Graduates!

A few years ago, commencement seemed a long away dream as you began your undergraduate and graduate studies. Whether you were beginning a doctoral, specialist, master’s or bachelor’s degree program, you knew that it was going to be a while before you would enjoy the excitement of walking across the stage for your first, second or even third degree. Your hard work and persistence have made today’s dream possible. You know that you did not accomplish this goal on your own. Your families, especially your parents, spouses, and other relatives have made sacrifices so that you could attend and complete your undergraduate and graduate studies. Therefore, you can understand why today’s ceremony is as important for them as it is for you. So please thank your family members for the personal support they have given you. And this is a good time also to wish the mothers in the audience an early Happy Mother’s Day!

This afternoon, your class will receive one thousand, two hundred and fifty-six (1,256) undergraduate and graduate degrees. Seven hundred and thirty-two (732) of you will receive a bachelor’s degree; 503 a Master’s and Specialist degree; and 21 will receive doctoral degrees.

You are a youthful and mature class. Sixty-nine percent (505) of the (732) baccalaureate candidates are 25 years old or younger, but the class includes a 20 year-old and a 69 year-old. Almost sixty percent (57%) of the 503 master’s and specialist graduates are under the age of 30; and the age of our 21 doctoral candidates range from 27 to 58 years old.

The majority of you are from 19 states across the United States – from as close as Ohio to as far away as California and Washington. But some of you are from six other countries, including Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Nigeria and Russia. Thank you for teaching us about your countries and adding to the global experience on campus. We ask you to take the mission and spirit of UDM back to your home countries.

As graduates of this 137 year-old University, you join more than 100,000 distinguished alumni who are leaders in their professions and in their communities. And it is for that reason that I encourage you to live the Jesuit and Mercy Mission, like many of our alumni, by giving special attention to the values of service, social justice and concern for others. It should be easy for you to follow that path in your chosen professions because of the thousands of hours of annual service you have given through local and national volunteer projects and alternative spring and winter breaks. Continue to provide that kind of service because it is a hallmark of University of Detroit Mercy.

If you have not already done so, please express your thanks and appreciation to your University of Detroit Mercy faculty and staff over the next few days. They have provided you with valuable guidance and experiences that have helped you to develop not only intellectually and socially, but also ethically and spiritually.

Graduates, before you formally graduate, I have a final charge for you to consider. Because we are a Catholic, Jesuit and Mercy university, many people have recognized over the last year that there is much similarity between our University Mission and the homilies and speeches of Pope Francis, some of which are included in a new book of his that is aptly titled, The Church of Mercy. His constant focus on service, social justice, poverty and other urban challenges, which we are very familiar with in Detroit, are partly influenced by his being a Jesuit and also because of his personal upbringing and experiences in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With his humble disposition, he can relate to everyday people who sense his compassion and mercy because he has been with them -- the incarcerated, the sick, the homeless, the poor and victims of injustice. And so I ask you, as new graduates of University of Detroit Mercy, to consider seriously Pope Francis’s messages of social justice and service, particularly to those who need, but may not be able to afford, your assistance. By sharing your specialized talents and education with them, you will improve our community, our nation and the world; and you will continue the purpose for which the University was founded in 1877.

Congratulations, Graduates. I wish you much success and may God’s blessings be with you and your families always.