Biology major delivers student address at 2023 commencement

Simone Tatum began her college journey in 2019, affected by all the variables in her life – a new baby, family death and later, COVID. Despite the challenges, she remained focused on one constant: That Mount Mary would help her see it through.

“I chose Mount Mary because they showed me from the beginning that they would do anything to help me succeed and get this degree, no matter my circumstances.”

Tatum, who is graduating with a degree in biology, will deliver the student address at the commencement ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20 in the Bloechl Center.

In high school, Tatum had made plans to go to college in Texas, but she changed her plans and chose to stay closer to home upon the birth of her daughter in June 2019.

“With help from my awesome advisors, support from professors, free resources from Mount Mary that assisted in helping me academically, financially and even mentally,” she said.

“Stepping into the building for the first time, I felt comfortable rather than out-of-place at a new setting,” she said. At Mount Mary, she became involved with the Tri-Beta biology honor society as a member and as the coordinator of the group’s blood drive. She is a Jewel Scholar, a member of the Promise Program and mentor.

“I think back and wonder what life would be like if I went to Texas. I would probably have student debt, confused on my next steps, homesick and maybe even a college drop-out,” she said.

Tatum has been accepted into the master's program in nursing at Marquette and plans to become a nurse practitioner. 

For a full schedule of graduation activities, including the new Hooding Ceremony for graduate students and the pre-commencement Light of Learning celebration, visit

View the 2023 commencement livestream.