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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • USM grads tout unique, but shared, experience

  • The graduates of the University of Saint Mary were sent forth into the next phase of their lives and careers Saturday during the college's annual spring commencement ceremony.
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  • The graduates of the University of Saint Mary were sent forth into the next phase of their lives and careers Saturday during the college's annual spring commencement ceremony.
    Among the 286 graduates who took the stage were 197 undergraduates and 89 graduate students, hailing from places as close as Leavenworth and as far as the United Kingdom and beyond. Despite their differences in age, background and experiences, they said they were united.
    “As college students, we have experienced many milestones together,” like an increasing sense of independence, said Kristina Wuthrich-Hoffman, an undergraduate student who reflected on the journey that the students at the Leavenworth campus had made so far.
    Wuthrich-Hoffman also acknowledged a greater connectedness in their broader efforts between students both residential and commuter in her comments.
    “It may seem simple ― we went to school, we wrote the papers, we took the tests and here we are... but that isn't even close to what happened,” she said. “That's not how we got here. It was a journey, all of us took this journey. Everyone's journey was a little different, but we made it.”
    From here, they will head again in different directions, some back to school for additional education, some into the workforce, using their degree to further their careers.
    Laura Peacock-Whiteside, a non-traditional student who earned an elementary education degree through USM's adult education program, said she was happy to have had that opportunity, though she admitted that for many of her fellow students in the adult education program, it getting here meant juggling a number of different commitments.
    “As you can imagine, none of this is or was easy, but we made the hard choices, sacrifices and worked tirelessly in the name of completing our educations,” she said, mentioning the difficulties of balancing work life, home life and the expectations of college coursework.
    Peacock-Whiteside said those sacrifices gave her some perspective, and she encouraged her fellow graduates not to always make the easy choices, but to try to do always what is right.
    The speaker for the graduate students, Patricia Ingraham, encouraged the graduates to thank the friends, family and faculty who helped them along the way. She credited the USM's ties to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in helping shape her own experience, with its integration of education and social justice and emphasis on basic kindness.
    “I believe that we as graduates need to take that quality out into the world with us,” she said.
     
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