On May 20 and 21, St. Catherine University celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2023. A total of 1,256 graduates from the College for Adults, the Graduate College, and the College for Women were recognized over Saturday and Sunday in Commencement ceremonies at Our Lady of Presentation Chapel in Carondelet Village and at The O’Shaughnessy. Speakers from the new class of alumni addressed their fellow graduates and shared words of gratitude and wisdom, reflecting on their time at St. Kate’s and looking ahead to the future.
“We are part of a legacy of influential and visionary leaders.”
Hannah Olson ’23, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Women and International Development, addressed graduates from the College for Women. She noted the unique challenges of the Class of 2023, whose first year on campus was interrupted by the pandemic in March 2020. “We were tested, challenged, and even broken,” she said. “We all had to search deep within and find the strength to push ourselves through.”
Olson stressed the importance of the support offered by friends, family, and community, and encouraged the new alumni to follow the example of generations of Katies before: “We are part of a legacy of influential and visionary leaders urging us to learn and discern wisely, live and lead justly, and shape a better world. We must follow in the footsteps of our dear CSJs [Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet], take up space in this world, care for our neighbors, protest, and make our voices heard.”
“While we may not always be sure of what the future holds, what we can be sure of is we are ready.”
Corinne Burrell MLIS ’23, who has worked as an alumni relations officer at St. Kate’s for four years in addition to being a student, spoke to her Graduate College classmates. Her love of libraries at a young age led her to apply to St. Kate’s Master of Library and Information Science program, where, she said, “the ability to learn from so many diverse, smart, and kind faculty members had a profound impact on my education.”
She reflected on the role of a St. Kate’s education in preparing students to be leaders who promote justice and equity, whatever their post-graduate paths. “While we may not always be sure of what the future holds, what we can be sure of is we are ready,” she said. “Whether you’ve earned your degree in the health sciences, business, leadership, social work, education, or library and information science, you are ready — ready to bring your unique talents, knowledge, and perspectives to create more just and equitable systems to all the people whose lives you will touch.”
“You have to be the best version of you in order to make a positive impact on the world.”
Kristen Botchway ’23 delivered the student keynote at the College for Adults ceremony. Botchway, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, entered nursing school only a week and a half postpartum, and in her speech shared the struggles and triumphs of her journey through the program. She stressed the importance of self-care — in all professions, but especially in nursing, where the demands of patient care can be intense.
Botchway said the support she received during her time at St. Kate’s taught her “you cannot pour from an empty cup,” and that anyone who wants to give back to the world must begin by taking care of themselves. She told graduates, “You have to be the best version of you in order to make a positive impact on the next person, place, organization, and the world as a whole.”
During the Commencement, President ReBecca Koenig Roloff ’76 reflected on the challenges and changes the graduating class has seen throughout their time at St. Kate’s, along with the countless ways they have embodied the St. Kate’s mission. She quoted the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, encouraging graduates to “fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Congratulations to the St. Catherine University Class of 2023!
Photos by Rebecca Slater '10 / By Rebecca Studios.