Despite winter storm, hundreds come out to celebrate Commencement

Mount Mary University's campus was a winter wonderland today, as graduates and their families celebrated Commencement this morning. The ceremony marks the graduation of 121 students from summer and fall 2016 terms.

Last night's snowstorm forced the cancelation of the university's traditional pre-commencement activities, but the break in the weather enabled Commencement to take place as planned. Over 600 guests attended the ceremony.

"The weather didn't keep people from celebrating the great accomplishments of our students," said Sarah Olejniczak, Dean for Student Affairs. "The weather cleared at the exact right time."

Tanya Keenan, an adjunct instructor who teaches English composition classes, presented the Commencement address, encouraging students to "transform the society around us," she said. Keenan was awarded the university's 2016 Excellence in Teaching Award for her ability to engage students in her classes.

"Graduation is an achievement, and you have fulfilled so many goals already," she said in her address. "Education calls us to take our bravery, our brilliance, and boldly change our world."

See photos on Facebook of graduates.

Lauren Kidd, an art therapy and fine arts graduate who delivered the student address, spoke of the commitment and passion of Mount Mary graduates that sets them apart.

When I first starting looking at colleges, I distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom, a Mount Mary graduate herself, about how I would never ever even consider going to an all-girls school," said Kidd. "My 18-year-old self could not think of a worse possible scenario."

After three semesters at a public university, she decided to reconsider Mount Mary and transferred. She found her place, she said.

"For the first time, I was surrounded by young women who cared about social justice and who intended to be the change that our world so desperately needs."

For enhanced web coverage of today's event, visit