December Commencement Speaker Shares the Power of Faith and Community

“The desire was persistent; I decided to follow my heart." 

S. Millicent Achieng Oduor describes both her educational journey and her service with the School Sisters of Notre Dame as paths that ultimately connected at the intersection of her life’s calling. An educational studies major with a double minor in psychology and English, Oduor will speak about the inspiration behind her educational journey during Mount Mary University’s 2023 winter commencement.

Oduor initially worked as a community health professional and pastoral counselor before beginning her formation as a religious sister, a calling she recalls hearing from a young age. As a novice SSND, Oduor served in her native Kenya, as well as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Gambia, working in schools and hospitals in number of roles that have included counselor, chaplain and librarian. But it was her work as a teacher that allowed her gifts to truly shine. When SSND leaders encouraged Oduor to apply for the scholarship that would ultimately lead her to Mount Mary University she was willing to take the opportunity, which she believes has allowed her to thrive in her vocation.

“There is truly a spirit of inclusivity here,” says Oduor of the Mount Mary community. The SSND found a welcoming environment in the university’s International Club, a place where other students from around the globe can find connection away from home. She also shared her appreciation of the Mount Mary faculty, whose commitment she believes helps develop students holistically.  

Oduor admits that the challenges of academic pursuit felt overwhelming at times, but credits her success to her abiding faith. 

"God gives me the strength to continue when things are difficult,” she shares. “My faith in Him carries me when my strength alone cannot.” 

The 2023 winter commencement ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 in the Alumnae Dining Room. 

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

The Graduate Hooding, Light of Learning ceremony and Commencement Mass will be held on Friday, Dec. 15, the evening before Commencement. The hooding ceremony will take place in the Alumnae Dining Hall at 4 p.m. The Mass will be held at 6 p.m. in Our Lady Chapel in Notre Dame Hall. The Light of Learning ceremony will follow at 7 p.m. in Stiemke Hall, also on the second floor of Notre Dame Hall.  

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