Due to COVID-19, the graduate Class of 2020’s celebration Saturday of earning their degrees shifted digitally and across the country to graduates’ homes.

As another way to recognize the newest St. Thomas alumni, the Newsroom asked students completing graduate-level degrees one question: What does graduating mean to you?

“Graduating with my doctoral degree means that my hard work and dedication to my education were all worth it. I finally reached my long-awaited end goal! There are currently less than 200 Native American psychologists in the U.S., and I couldn’t be more proud and honored to be added to that group of individuals as I graduate. Graduating also means that I will finally be able to return home to the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota and serve my community, as well as put my education to great use. It has been such an amazing, yet rigorous, journey to get to this point, and I am absolutely ecstatic to take my first steps out into the world as a St. Thomas GSPP graduate!” – Alyssa Parisien ’20 PsyD

“Graduating symbolizes new beginnings; it’s a manifestation of hard work, and for many like me who are of immigrant or refugee background it is the seed to success.” – Fathi Kofiro ’20 MSW, who also passed the Licensed Graduate Social Worker exam

“Graduation means to me new challenges and the potential for exciting new opportunities for my career.” – Jason Breunig ’20 MA in public safety and law enforcement leadership

“To me, graduating is an accomplishment that no one else in my family has attempted. It was paving a new road and setting a great example to my children.” – Jessica Miller ’20 MSW

“To me, graduating is so much more than just a diploma or a sentence on my resume; it’s a rite of passage that gives me a greater understanding of the world around me. Every time I look back on graduating I will remember all my hard work to achieve this degree and how it has enriched my life.” – Sarah Pavey ’20 MA in English

“Graduating as a Doctor of Social Work was an amazing adventure. I cannot imagine having earned my doctorate anywhere else. For me, this doctoral graduation means that I now become a lifelong learner who shares new knowledge and expertise in the social work profession. With my DSW I gained a sense of honor, pride and social responsibility to address social injustice through education. I will use the arsenal of knowledge and meaningful experiences gained through the DSW program as an opportunity to make every situation better. I feel privileged to experience this defining moment in my life and career, and incredibly blessed to have been taught by a faculty with diverse areas of expertise. I am equally fortunate as an alumna of Cohort 4, a group of women and one man who continually educate me as we have become colleagues and friends. Thank you to St. Thomas and the School of Social Work.” – Norma R. Love-Schropshire ’20 DSW

Target Field lighting is turned purple in celebration of the graduating class of 2020, in Minneapolis on May 22, 2020.

Target Field lighting is turned purple in celebration of the graduating Class of 2020, in Minneapolis on May 22, 2020.

“Graduating means I will be more prepared for the wave of change coming to health care. The program has better prepared me to support my team through the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a student again.” – Kate Kellett ’20 MBA

“Graduating from St. Thomas has made all the difference, with the opportunities it opened for me to go out and display my skills and make the world a better place to live in. I am able to implement the theoretical expertise I gained during my master’s and fulfill dreams that I could have only imagined of. I came out as a confident and independent individual graduating from St. Thomas.” – Alfi Goyal ’20 MS in information technology with a certificate in artificial intelligence

“Graduating means that I’ve made it through a highly regarded, rigorous, three-year doctorate in social work program at the University of St. Thomas. The quality education I received will have a ripple effect on the next generation of social workers as I share my knowledge and scholarly work regarding my research interests of reducing stress, increasing self-care and building a resilient workforce. I hold my head high and take great pride in being a St. Thomas 2020 graduate.” – Brenda Mack ’20 DSW

“For me graduating is a proud moment, not just for me but for my family too. I have always wanted to study well and having a master’s degree makes me feel I have reached my goal. I have learned a lot during all these years, now I would like to implement those in my life and career going forward. I will keep my will to learn and curiosity a live.” – Sumitra Chowdhary ’20 MS in electrical engineering

Target Field lighting is turned purple in celebration of the graduating class of 2020, in Minneapolis on May 22, 2020.

Target Field lighting is turned purple in celebration of the graduating Class of 2020, in Minneapolis on May 22, 2020.

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