Winter Commencement Speakers Encourage Graduates to Embrace Authenticity and Community

On a gloomy December morning the mood was bright with anticipation as graduates filed through the arches and into the Alumnae Dining Hall for the 2023 winter commencement ceremony. 

Assistant biology professor and 2023 Teaching Excellence Award recipient Louise Kessler, Ph.D. spoke to this sense of hope, encouraging those in attendance to embrace authenticity and lead with the university values of competence and compassion.

Kessler addressed the feelings of “imposter syndrome” that hinder us, assuring those in attendance that they were not alone in this experience of self-doubt while reminding listeners that they had the power to change the narrative.

Kessler encouraged the graduating class to design a life of integrity and authenticity for themselves, to use their unique gifts to make the world a better place, and to serve as a guiding light for others along the way.

“Embrace the authenticity that is in you, lead with your heart and let your competence shine,” she said.

Student speaker S. Millicent Achieng Oduor echoed this sentiment, encouraging the graduating class to lean on one another for support and strength.

“It takes a village,” she stated, quoting an African proverb. “We don’t have to struggle alone.  Together we can figure out the solutions.”

Oduor thanked her community at Mount Mary University and the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the opportunity to succeed in completing her education degree, a vocation close to her heart. 

“I needed the support of the Mount Mary community to become the person I am today,” she said. “Thank you for giving me wings to fly.”

A photo album of the day’s events is available on the Mount Mary University Flickr page. To view a recording of the commencement ceremony, click here.