On May 21 and 22, the St. Kate’s community celebrated the accomplishments of the class of 2022 as they completed a major educational milestone: graduation. The University recognized 1,307 graduates from the College for Adults, Graduate College, and College for Women over Saturday and Sunday. The celebration began at Our Lady of Victory Chapel with the Baccalaureate Mass, followed by a procession across campus and into The O'Shaughnessy, where the Commencement ceremony was held. Each celebration was a tribute to the three schools and their students’ individual journeys to claim their degrees.
"Carry that resilience and wisdom."
Joan Demeules ’87, MAT'01, retired director of St. Kate’s Access and Success, recalled her non-traditional journey to higher education. Demeules attended college as a single mother struggling to make ends meet when she saw a bus sign encouraging registration for weekend classes at St. Kate’s — "a sign that led to me sitting in this very auditorium 35 years ago for my own graduation." Although attending college while working full-time was extremely challenging, she persevered and claimed her education, with the support of St. Kate's faculty, staff, and community members.
“Each night, after I put my daughter to bed, I would start on my homework," Demeules recalled. "With each class I completed, I felt more empowered.” She concluded her Commencement address by encouraging the graduating class of 2022. “Adversity hasn’t held you back — it helped you move forward," she said. "If you carry that resilience and wisdom into this next phase of your life, I have no doubt that you will accomplish everything you dreamed you could.”
“You are equipped with the tools.”
Carol Ronning Kapsner ’69, former Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, addressed the College for Women graduates. Throughout her speech, Judge Kapsner recalled the perseverance she called upon when entering the workforce as a newly graduated lawyer. “As graduates of St. Catherine University, you are equipped with the tools to deal with this often times troubling world," she reminded the newly graduating Katies. "Be bold in your responses to it, do good work, persevere, and you will make it better.” Through her work as a government official and her advocacy for quality of life for people with developmental disabilities, Kapsner has embodied the core values she took to heart from her time at St. Kate’s.
“Do your little bit of good where you are.”
Philomena Satre MAOL’08, director of diversity and inclusion and strategic partnerships at Land O’Lakes, gave the Commencement speech for the graduate ceremony, encouraging the new alumni to look towards the future. "Thank you," she added, "to all the family, friends, staff at St. Catherine’s who stood by these students and celebrated their journey, and lifted them up when they experienced self-doubt, stress, and uncertainty. You have made a difference."
Satre's closing wisdom came from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are, it is those little bits of good put together that will overwhelm the world.”
Throughout the last few years, these graduates endured a multitude of obstacles as they claimed their education in the midst of a global pandemic. However, these Katies persevered and continued to demonstrate St. Catherine University's core values of Academic Excellence, Community, Integrity, Social Justice, and Reflection. During the Commencement, President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76 invoked the words of the late Maya Angelou, who once spoke on the same O'Shaughnessy stage as a Woman of Distinction: "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."
"That's exactly what you all did," President Roloff continued, "on this campus, on the computer screen, at a safe distance, and under masks. All of us who have walked with you during your time here know: you have the competence, the faith and reason, and you definitely have the leadership that will turn any adversity you encounter into an opportunity to further your own life’s mission."
Congratulations to the St. Catherine University Class of 2022!
Photos by Rebecca Slater '10 / By Rebecca Studios.