Commencement speakers inspire at winter graduation ceremony

2019 winter commencement speakers

Teliah Beach '18, Renee Beaulieu-Banks MAHS'18 and Sylvia Vandenberg-Daves '18 gave commencement addresses to fellow graduates.

Winter commencement exercises were held on the St. Catherine University campus on December 20, 2018 at The O'Shaughnessy. Nearly 400 Katies joined the ranks of over 48,000 living St. Kate's alumni across the U.S. and abroad.

The University's three colleges — The College for Women, the College for Adults and the Graduate College — were each represented by a student speaker. Alumna Erin Murphy MAOL'05 was the guest speaker.

Teliah Beach
Teliah Beach, College for Adults

Teliah Beach was chosen to represent graduates in the College for Adults as a commencement speaker. Beach earned a bachelor's degree in healthcare management.

She's a pharmacy technician at HealthPartners, a volunteer, and a mother of two. Beach was described by one of her faculty mentors as a leader who uses her voice to make a positive difference in the classroom and in her community.

Excerpts from Beach's address:

"I want to thank my family, friends, colleagues, and St. Catherine University faculty and staff for being my support system. It takes a village to get through any learning process, and I needed everyone involved during this experience. I appreciate all the help from encouraging words, to bringing food, so I didn’t have to live off ramen; and being present when I needed someone with me. Like me, I’m sure all of you in tonight’s graduating class learned from watching the great leaders here, both in teaching positions or as staff. Thank you for every contribution that made us better together."

"I knew I wanted to work in health care after a trip to the science museum at age seven when a brain surgery video amazed me. Following that curiosity throughout school, and attending college visits, led me to St. Kate’s. I needed a supportive and flexible option where I could find my purpose while raising my son and working full time. As a St. Kate’s College for Adults student, I could build an impressive resume in addition to my transcript. I could write analysis essays; take full-time credits; be a full-time pharmacy technician; volunteer for a Girl Scout troop, or around the city; connect with future and present boss Katies; interview CEOs; raise a family, add onto my family, and graduate. The support and resources we have in this community will take us where we need to go."

"This is what it means to be a bold Katie. We stand up with a fire burning passion and know that what we say can make a difference. The discussions we have force us to form new perspectives from each others views that allow our futures to be inclusive of those we will lead. I love being a part of us as a whole; knowing I’m not alone and we have each other’s backs. The struggle is real, and so is our influence. Women don’t have to be silent; our words inspire action, our minds are full of power, and our hearts beat with passion."

Sylvia Vanderberg-Daves
Sylvia Vandenberg-Daves, College for Women

Sylvia Vandenberg-Daves was chosen as the commencement speaker representing the College for Women. Vandenberg-Daves graduated with a bachelor's degree in English and women’s studies.

During her St. Kate’s career, she worked as a tutor in the O'Neill Center, a teaching assistant in the English Department, a PRIDE club leader, a review committee member for Catherine’s Monologues and Ariston, and an assistant in the English Department office. A faculty member called her enthusiastic, understanding and deeply invested in helping others.

Excerpts from Vandenberg-Daves' commencement address:

"When I first arrived at St. Kate's, I was drawn in by the gardens, the pond, and the woods, and by the mission to educate women to lead and influence. I could not have known then how I would be challenged and supported to become the woman I am today. My time at St. Kate's has been filled with moments of clarity and growth that will influence my thinking for the rest of my life."

"This internal call to action, this understanding of the impact of my voice, is the value of a St. Kate's liberal arts degree. We cannot study art, sociology, nursing, philosophy, English, or biology, without beginning to uncover and understand the threads of connection between all living things; how the fruits of our labor are passed from hand to hand. And once we understand how closely we are held together by this world and how much our own actions matter to the greater whole, we cannot be content to stand in complacency, apathy, or fear."

"St. Kate's has encouraged and empowered me, and each of you, to become someone who is equipped to lead and influence with compassion, self-assurance, and a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. It is here that we learned to advocate for ourselves and for others; to tackle complex questions; to listen deeply; to hold conflicting truths in our hearts; to claim our educations with humility. And it is here that we learn not only to look beyond ourselves, but to take down walls, expanding our understanding of neighbor in service of compassion and connection."

Renee Beaulieu-Banks
Renee Beaulieu-Banks

Renee Beaulieu-Banks represented the Graduate College with her commencement address. Beaulieu-Banks earned a master of arts in holistic health. She's had a career in higher education for more than 25 years, and is a proud mother and grandmother.

Beaulieu-Banks has dedicated her life to being of service to others in the American Indian community through her profession, family life, community service work, and through her academic career. Faculty members who nominated her to be a commencement speaker reiterated that Renee's intellect, knowledge, determination and competency contribute to her academic success, while her passion, sensitivity, humility and reflection have inspired classmates.

Excerpts from Beaulieu-Banks' commencement address:

"Many St. Kate's faculty and staff demonstrate the mission and vision daily, and they have shown me and other students their deep commitment to teaching with excellence and doing it with honesty. In the Holistic Health program, for the very first time, I feel supported and respected for who I am as an Anishinaabe woman walking in two worlds, trying desperately to hold onto what I was taught about my culture and relearn what was interrupted."

"The educational experience gained from St. Catherine has motivated me and has proven to create leaders within the Holistic Health program and trailblazers for healing in the community. The positive influence and encouragement my classmates and I received from faculty, peers, and staff instilled a strong sense of confidence to make changes where it is needed. The educational experience and research work taught students to work together and independently for a greater understanding of each other."

"The research that my amazing co-researchers and I accomplished together integrated two worldviews that produced a research study on healing American Indian Historical trauma. Our research triad was comprised of two White females and me. The integration of our personal worldviews came together in our work and we were able to corroborate the epistemology, ontology, and the axiology of the American Indian perspective in the Western dominant educational system. St. Catherine University has given me the knowledge and awareness to successfully bridge these two very different paradigms, both conceptually and experientially."

A full album of commencement photos will be available to graduates in mid-January. An email will be sent to graduates who RSVPed to attend commencement with a link and password to access the photos.