Remember this day: Graduation day will inspire future success

"Our planet needs our careful participation for a healthy future."

S. Joanne Poehlman SSND

To fully appreciate an experience as momentous as a graduation, you must use a different kind of recording device, said Mount Mary commencement speaker S. Joanne Poehlman SSND.

"Turn off your cell phones," she directed students. "It is important to experience this moment with all of your being. Record this in your body, mind and soul." Poehlman, an associate professor of anthropology at the University, delivered the commencement address Saturday in the Bloechl Center. A total of 256 students were awarded degrees.

Memories shape us, said Poehlman, and the recollection of this success "serves us for the next challenge.

"Your felt experience of your success will be there for you when you wonder if you have what it takes."

Poehlman, a beloved member of the faculty, has focused her teaching and learning on women in the workplace, women in poverty, women and Islam, children, minorities, aging, gender and global politics, developing countries, economic disparity, race relations, social justice, religion and immigration reform.

She offered graduates three pieces of advice:

  • Commit to a lifetime of asking questions. The answers are important, but a Mount Mary education has revealed that the right questions are just as important.
  • Be a careful listener to the needs and requests of the world around you. Never forget the core belief taught in the Leadership for Social Justice class, that a "listening and sensitive mind and heart moves you into action."
  • Consider saying yes: If you are asked to do something that might change your life, consider the question carefully. "Be thoughtful and if you can't think of enough good reasons to say no, say yes.

"You have the foundation upon which to build any number of wonderful lives," she said.

Poehlman graduated from Mount Mary in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minor in History. She received a Master of Arts in Anthropology from St. Louis University in 1972, took a leave of absence from 1974 to 1979 to complete a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, and then returned to Mount Mary as a full-time Assistant Professor.

In 1989, a committee of faculty, students, alumnae and administration selected her as the recipient of the first Mount Mary College Teaching Excellence Award.

The lessons learned at Mount Mary will continue to influence the lives of these graduates, she said.

"Our planet needs our careful participation for a healthy future," she said. "Social justice is a lifetime commitment."

See more about Mount Mary University Commencement 2018.