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McNichols Campus Commencement Speech

University of Detroit Mercy
McNichols Campus Commencement Speech
May 14, 2016
Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.

Thank you, Sr. Mary Kelly. University of Detroit Mercy Board of Trustees; Vice Chair Sr. Rosita Schiller; Trustees Brian Cloyd, Sr. Linda Werthman and Bill Young; today’s speaker, former Dean of University Libraries/Instructional Technology, Margaret Auer; Faculty, Staff, and Students of the University; Parents, Spouses, Relatives and Friends of the 2016 graduates; and, most especially, the 2016 Graduating Class of University of Detroit Mercy. We are happy to have you here for our 2016 Commencement ceremony!

And congratulations to our more than 1,100 (1,108) graduates who are receiving their graduate and undergraduate degrees this afternoon. You will soon join more than 87,000 distinguished alumni who live in all 50 states and 87 countries; and we are confident that you will bring even more distinction to the University because of your future success in each of your respective professions.

Let me begin my remarks by sharing a few interesting facts about your class with your family and friends who are here this afternoon.

First, seventy percent (465) of the six hundred and sixty (660) baccalaureate degree candidates are 25 years old or younger, and the oldest is in the early 60’s; sixty percent (258) of the 432 master’s and specialist graduates are 29 years old and younger, and the oldest is in the youthful 70’s; and our 16 doctoral candidates range in age from 27 years old to the late 60’s. Age truly is just a number when it comes to lifelong learning!

Secondly, more than a thousand (1,009) of you (91%), are from Michigan; four percent (49) of you come from 20 other states; and almost five percent (49) of you are from 6 countries, including Canada, Belarus, Brazil, Georgia, China and India.

And third, women are dominant in these undergraduate and graduate classes by almost 2 to 1 -- 64% women and 36% men! Congratulations, Ladies. Guys, we have some work to do in higher education!

Those diverse similarities and differences with respect to age, your hometowns, and your gender provided you with a rich experience that you will be able to use in your careers and the communities where you will live and serve. And I hope that the friendships and professional relationships you have developed as students will keep you connected for many decades.

As you graduate today, please remember and reflect on these two simple but powerful phrases:

“Be Thankful” and “Be Generous”

“Be Thankful.” Be thankful for everything your relatives and friends have done for you. And remember that your dream today might not have been possible if it had not been for your family members’ sacrifices. It’s understandable that you would think that today is all about you because you are the graduate. But, in reality, today’s ceremony is even more special for your parents, your spouses, your siblings, and other proud relatives who are enjoying this day even more than you. Thank them all -- your sisters and brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and many friends -- for their support and constant encouragement while you were a student. And thank your University of Detroit Mercy professors and staff who have prepared you to think and make good judgments. Make your list of people to thank and personally express your appreciation to them.

Remember also to “be generous.” Be generous with your time and voluntary service, just as you have been with your local and national service activities. You have prepared and delivered meals to senior citizens on the weekend with Campus Kitchen; you tutored students after school at Gesu Elementary School; you taught children about proper nutrition at their elementary schools and mentored young students in sports activities. And you provided health screenings for veterans as well as assisted Detroit residents with their income tax preparation. You also collected donations for food drives and bottled water for the citizens of Flint, and participated in Alternative Break Trips here and across the country. Continue to serve in your communities!

Our speaker today is a person who truly knows the value of service. Former Dean of University Libraries and Instructional Technology, Margaret Auer has dedicated more than 50 years of service to this University and most of that time as Dean. We thank her for the generous service she has provided to tens of thousands of students and even more citizens of this metropolitan Detroit community.

As you are expressing your thankfulness and generosity, remember also to give back to your alma mater and her founders, the Jesuits and the Sisters of Mercy. Through their religious orders’ vision and commitment to higher education in Detroit 139 years ago and 75 years ago, respectively, professionals like you would not have had the opportunity to lead and serve in your own distinctive ways. Give back generously so others will follow in your footsteps.

Now that you have obtained an excellent academic and spiritual foundation, become an active member of our more than 87,000 alumni and use the values and skills you have learned to make a difference in this nation and the world.

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