Winter 2021 Commencement: “We’re here because you persisted”

Like characters in a novel, the winter graduates of Mount Mary were faced with unanticipated obstacles -- physical and mental health challenges, economic hardship, illness and loss.

“2021 gave us all of that and more,” said Christopher Mohar, M.F.A., adjunct faculty member in English and the recipient of a 2021 Teaching Excellence Award. “It didn’t matter whether you saw the glass as half-empty or half-full, the glass was knocked off the table and shattered.”

But the struggles served to make the day’s event a remarkable celebration, a hero’s journey.

“We’re here because you persisted,” Mohar said.

Mount Mary’s winter commencement took place Saturday, December 11, 2021 as a socially-distanced event in the Alumnae Dining Room, with graduates and attendees following all COVID-19 protocols.

All graduates were allowed two guests; Mount Mary faculty, who normally attend the event, gave up their seats in order for the graduates to have close family and friends in attendance.

These members of the faculty and staff participated in the event after the ceremony by lining the hallway and loudly cheering the graduates as they exited the building.

The COVID pandemic made students more resolute in finding and acting upon their purpose, said class speaker Alice Ripberger, an art therapy graduate who had previously been at three other institutions and contemplated multiple majors before coming to Mount Mary.

“I believe that the events of the last year lit the lantern that illuminated the cracks in our communities where we will be called to use the values and tools instilled in us by the university to help heal ourselves, our families, our communities and the world,” she said.

“It is as though God revealed exactly where we are needed in this world once we graduate.”

Approximately 130 students from the summer and fall classes were eligible to graduate. Master’s students in occupational therapy made up a sizeable contingent of the graduating class.

The next chapter of the story, Mohar said, is for graduates to apply the tools they learned at Mount Mary, their integrity and commitment, to a higher purpose.

“Find a place to give your gift,” he said.

A photo album of the day’s events is available on Facebook. To view a recording of the commencement ceremony, click here.