During commencement ceremonies on May 21, more than 1,500 students from the Class of 2022 became the newest alumni from St. Thomas. Three students were the featured commencement speakers: Maggie Schmaltz ’22, Delaney Rossow ’22 and Kevyn Perkins ’22.
In her last undergraduate commencement speech at St. Thomas before she heads to Santa Clara University, President Julie Sullivan referenced the challenges that the Class of 2022 faced head on.
"You, Class of 2022, will always hold a very special place in my heart. You will be my last class of Tommies to whom I will personally hand your diplomas," Sullivan said. "You are a special class because, let's face it, your time in college has not been typical ... a global pandemic, social unrest and so much more. You have been through a great deal in your time here at St. Thomas – more than most classes – and yet, you are here. You have held fast to your hope for better days. You have helped your friends and family. You have used your grit and determination to complete your degrees and be celebrated today. ... You have inspired me, and you embody in every sense of the word, the Tommie spirit."
Schmaltz, a biology of global health major on the pre-med track, plans to move to Oregon in the fall to begin medical school in pursuit of her dream of becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist.
In a speech bookended by pop music references (Harry Styles and Semisonic), Schmaltz shared with classmates how practicing gratitude helped her to cope with a bout of depression she experienced in spring 2021. She recalled what she had written on notes of gratitude that she shaped into paper cranes and hung on her ceiling during that time.
"I am grateful for professors who checked in when I missed class and actually wanted to know how I was doing. I'm grateful for the grace of my physics professor, who let me turn in homework late when I couldn't muster up the energy to do it," Schmaltz said. "I'm grateful to have been a captain of the University of St. Thomas Dance Team as we won St. Thomas' 17th national championship. I am grateful that I found St. Thomas to be a safe space to come out, and I'm grateful that I found my best friends at St. Thomas. Finally, I'm so grateful for all the wontons I inhaled at The View."
Rossow, an accounting and creative writing double major who will be joining the global accounting firm PwC as an audit associate, encouraged classmates to take every experience as a gift and remembered her time at St. Thomas fondly.
"My experiences included time as an Admissions intern, designing and writing for the Summit Avenue Review, and dabbling in social media for the theater and sustainability programs," said Rossow. "When I wasn’t on campus, I loved giving back in the community with friends or doing anything creatively stimulating."
Tommie Award winner and electrical engineering major Perkins plans to work in the medical device industry at Boston Scientific and begin pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. He spoke of the many tests that the Class of 2022 faced.
"Our journey has been filled with turbulent moments, and turbulent moments can lead to beautiful destinations like today," Perkins said. "Our journey has been filled with many, many turbulent moments, from the murder of George Floyd and ongoing social unrest to a global pandemic. We were tested. I'm sure it felt like we were experiencing one major challenge after another without time to catch our breath. ... We cannot control the things that come at us in life, but what we can control is our reaction to those events. Embrace adversity as a chance for opportunity."
"My degree at St. Thomas has been vital in preparing me for graduate school in economics. I acquired strong research, analytical and mathematical skills here at St. Thomas that are difficult to acquire outside the classroom. St. Thomas provided me an important foundation for the rigorous coursework in a doctoral program and the research-oriented career that follows." – Anthony Vecchia ’22, who will be pursuing a doctoral degree in economics from Indiana University and published a journal article with Dr. Tyler Schipper while at St. Thomas
"Graduating means a lot to me as it is a time to be recognized for the hard work I have put toward school throughout my life, especially during these past four years at St. Thomas. This is one of the biggest accomplishments I have had in my lifetime, and I will cherish that forever." – Brooke Hespenheide ’22, a data analytics and mathematical economics major who ran Tommie Shelf and organized the BIG Event
"My degrees in Spanish and Catholic studies will have deep implications upon whatever I am doing in my life, because both of them have given me a deeper understanding of others, myself, and how we are all interconnected. This may mean I could teach in Catholic education or work with Latino populations, but ultimately, I hope to engage my Spanish with others and continue to let my faith lead me wherever I go." – Katy Shimp ’22
"My degree has given me the skills I need for graduate study, but the liberal arts curriculum has also challenged me to see myself as a changemaker. I can’t wait to use what I learned at St. Thomas to go forward and make a difference." – Addie McCurdy ’22, who will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder to earn a doctorate in applied mathematics
"Your education is important, but there’s more to learning than what happens in the classroom. College is a time to discover yourself, what you’re passionate about, and who you want to surround yourself with. Don’t shy away from those growth opportunities! They’re challenging, but when you come out the other side, you’ll be a better version of yourself." – Kayla Mayer ’22, who worked on producing the College of Arts and Sciences Teach-in Tuesday series
"My degree will impact my career as an attorney, as a degree in economics has allowed me to strengthen my critical thinking and concise writing skills." – Executive Vice President of Undergraduate Student Government Marin Bennerotte ’22, who will be attending Wake Forest University School of Law
"This degree is definitely a step forward for me in my post-graduation plans and if anything, will be a reminder of my accomplishments and be a message to keep pushing myself forward to new heights by aiming for higher positions and working with different communities." – Data analytics major Erick Castellanos ’22, who was a leader in numerous student clubs including HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement) and ASIA (Asian Students in America)
"I feel ecstatic [about graduating] ... It's been four years coming, so I'm really happy. I'm making my family proud." – Mechanical engineering major Ryan Nguyen ’22