#UDStrong: Graduates praised for their resilience during graduation

The University of Dayton awarded 1,655 undergraduate degrees this morning during a ceremony at the UD Arena. Ed Richter/Staff Photo

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The University of Dayton awarded 1,655 undergraduate degrees this morning during a ceremony at the UD Arena. Ed Richter/Staff Photo

The day could not have been better scripted — a picture perfect sunny day with blue skies and hundreds of mothers receiving the best Mother’s Day gift of all — seeing their son or daughter graduate from college.

On Sunday, the University of Dayton awarded 1,655 undergraduate degrees during a ceremony at the UD Arena.

UD said the expected 1,655 undergraduate degrees eclipses last year’s mark of 1,582. A total of 2,050 degrees were awarded this weekend. These were also the first “full” spring graduation ceremonies in three years.

Last year, the University held six in-person ceremonies at UD Arena aligned with safety guidelines to allow students and their invited guests to celebrate academic achievements in the Flyer spirit and tradition.

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UD will also hold a graduation ceremony on May 14 for 2020 graduates, whose graduation ceremony in 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony will be at the Marycrest Amphitheater located at the east end of the central mall opposite Kennedy Union.

UD awarded an honorary doctorate of science at the ceremony to Lori Beer, a 1989 University of Dayton computer science graduate who now is the global chief information officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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UD President Eric F. Spina praised the graduating students and their mothers. “What wonderful, lifelong gifts your son or daughter is giving you today: a college diploma and a memory of a lifetime,” he said.

“Your class has navigated through adversity with resilience, grace and genuine care for each other, and I could not be more proud of you.”

Spina recalled some of the events of the past four years, from the return of the cicadas and taking classes downtown at the Dayton Arcade to the war in Ukraine, devastating tornados, the Oregon District shootings, racial injustice, and growing political polarization.

“Through it all, you have shown that you may be the most resilient class in UD history,” Spina said. “There should be an asterisk on your official transcript noting this accomplishment because you’ve taking a crash course in resiliency and aced it. You are #UDStrong.”

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A new University of Dayton graduate is excited about receiving her college degree. UD held the first full spring graduation in three years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

A new University of Dayton graduate is excited about receiving her college degree. UD held the first full spring graduation in three years.  ED RICHTER/STAFF

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A new University of Dayton graduate is excited about receiving her college degree. UD held the first full spring graduation in three years. ED RICHTER/STAFF

He said the class of 2022 “has shown grit, endurance, and persistence. These are life skills, the kind that go well beyond a textbook.” Spina also said the graduates also “navigated the headwinds of change, and you know you can adapt to any Plan B the future throws at you. You have come to understand that flexibility is the watchword no matter what profession you enter.“

Peter Connelly of Kettering received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and will be starting his new job next week at a Columbus advertising agency.

“It’s extremely relieving and joyous but I’m bittersweet that it’s over,” he said. “I’m excited about the next chapter in life.”

His mother, Lisa, said her son was the last of three to graduate from college and “I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day present.”

Erin Tatham of Columbus, graduated cum laude in premedicine studies, said she will be taking a gap year off but will be applying to medical school this summer for a seat in the fall of 2023.

She said she loved her college experience, loved UD because she made new friends. “UD will always be my second home,” Tatham said. “I came to UD and fell in love with it. It was a lot but the community kept us going. The community kept us together through those tough times.”

Sandy Dietsch of Englewood watched her nephew Kyle Brun of Indianapolis graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He graduated magna cum laude and his parents Jay and Theresa, both UD grads.

“He really made the most of his college experience and he’s a really good kid,” Dietsch said. “It’s a big accomplishment and it’s nice that its being held on Mother’s Day.”

Malachy Collins of Chicago said graduation was “bittersweet.”

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Another group of students take their place in line to receive their diplomas during Sunday's graduation ceremonies at the University of Dayton. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Another group of students take their place in line to receive their diplomas during Sunday's graduation ceremonies at the University of Dayton. ED RICHTER/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Another group of students take their place in line to receive their diplomas during Sunday's graduation ceremonies at the University of Dayton. ED RICHTER/STAFF

“It hasn’t hit me yet,”

Collins graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and said he was very excited to go on the Dayton to Daytona trip next week.

He also graduated with this cousin Annie Mannion of Elmhurst, Ill. Mannion graduated with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

“I haven’t processed it yet,” said Dylan Gorski of Shorewood, Ill. “But it’s a lot better because it’s Mother’s Day.”

Gorski earned a pair of bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and in psychology.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Joan Gorski, Dylan’s mother. “A double major in four years is not easy, but I know he’ll be in living up to his great potential. This is a great Mother’s Day gift.”

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