Winter Commencement speaker celebrates integrity and persistence

After she graduated from high school, Sophia Smetana Wagner '22 spent a semester traveling the world -- Mexico, Europe and the United States -- performing in a stage show with the nonprofit organization, Up with People. Before she embarked on this adventure, she thought Mount Mary was the right place for her. And when returned from seeing the world, she was more convinced than ever.

"I chose Mount Mary for the university’s values of leadership, integrity and deep sense of social justice," she said.

Wagner is the 2022 student speaker for the Winter Commencement ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 in the Alumnae Dining Room.

Throughout her time at Mount Mary, she put those values into place through her major in psychology, her minors in anthropology and sociology, and through her tenure as president of MMU's International Club.

Calling Mount Mary "small but mighty," she will share statistics during her speech that bring her great pride.

"Mount Mary is number 1 in the Midwest for social mobility with 66% of undergraduates identifying as people of color (34% identifying as Hispanic and 21% as black or African American), 10% are parents, and 44% of students are first generation to attend college. That’s something worth celebrating.”

"These statistics display the immense persistence and strength of each and every person here at Mount Mary University. Despite the hardships and setbacks and times where we just about were to give up, we made it."

Wagner grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin and graduated from Catholic Central High School. In the fall, she plans to continue her pursuit of partnering with people on their mental health journey by attending graduate school for clinical mental health counseling.

Tickets are required for the in-person event, but the ceremony will be livestreamed here.

The Light of Learning ceremony and Commencement Mass will be held on Friday, Dec. 16, the evening before Commencement. The Mass will be held at 6 p.m. in Our Lady Chapel in Notre Dame Hall. The Light of Learning ceremony will be follow at 7 p.m. in Stiemke Hall, also on the second floor of Notre Dame Hall.

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