It was a historic weekend at the University of Dayton, with approximately 2,116 students —a record number — crossing the stage and receiving degrees in three separate ceremonies.
It was also a weekend of personal triumph and celebration.
Marina Li Mancuso, a graduate in chemical engineering, addressed her classmates by sharing her journey to belonging at UD. Thanks to the persistence of a fellow Flyer, she joined the UD chapter of Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She said it brought her both a sense of belonging and personal success, including becoming the first female president of UD SASE.
“It’s proof that when you force yourself into a situation that you never considered before, you can thrive in ways that you never imagined,” Mancuso said. “We’re all about to embark on a new chapter of our lives. Whether we’re starting our first professional job, beginning graduate school or serving our community, we will surely encounter uneasy and uncomfortable situations that we wish we could just avoid entirely. … I’m encouraging you to think about the endless possibilities and benefits that can result if you choose to stay and embrace that discomfort.”
Michael Hannigan, who graduated at age 65 with a general studies degree, shared before the ceremony how his diploma dream happened thanks to the persistence of his daughter, Chrissy. Four years ago, his daughter started her undergraduate studies at UD.
“She asked if I could finish so I could graduate with her,” said Hannigan, who began at UD in 1972 and left two years later to begin a career. “I couldn’t say no.”
The two today walked down the same aisle and received their degrees, Chrissy Hannigan earning a bachelor’s in exercise science.
President Eric F. Spina offered congratulations and shared with graduates the words of civil rights leader and master orator Thomas Nathaniel Todd: “Do not use your degree just to make a living. Use your degree to make a difference.”
Said Spina, “Our world is hungry for respectful dialogue and behavior, for hearts that reject bigotry, and eyes that look with empathy and compassion on all people as children of God. This may be the greatest challenge of contemporary times.”
Learning and living at a Catholic, Marianist university has prepared you to make a difference, Spina said.
“It’s not just because your résumé is strong, though it is,” Spina said. “It’s not just because you are armed with marketable skills, though you are. It’s not just because you hold a college degree, though you do — proudly.
“It’s because you have lived and learned in community — and have already shown you can make a positive difference with the way you live your lives inside and outside the classroom. Every moment on your academic journey has shaped you into the person you are today.”
For 168 years, the University has served and educated its students. To today’s graduates, Spina had these final words:
“Remember that the University of Dayton will always be an important part of you, and you will always be part of this special campus community. This will always be your home.”