The undergraduate college years for the members of the University of St. Thomas Class of 2023 required resilience and dedication due to the pandemic. On May 19, they marched out of the Arches to Summit Avenue to symbolize their transition to St. Thomas alumni, where those skills will help them in the next phase of their lives.
Hundreds of relatives, friends and members of the St. Thomas community cheered them on, including newly inaugurated President Rob Vischer.
“If you think back to when you were a new student at St. Thomas and you were lined up out there on the other side of these Arches, a whole lot has happened between then and now,” Vischer said. “But back when you first walked through those Arches, you were told about the symbolism of marching through as new students that you are joining an academic community with a tradition spanning centuries, a learning community that would support you and challenge you and a community that expects its members to hold each other to the high expectations of living out our values. I hope that you have found all that to be true.”
Haison Nguyen ’23, senior class president, reflected on the changes that the Class of 2023 experienced during their time at St. Thomas: the leap from D-III to D-I in athletics, the challenges of the pandemic and the launch of ChatGPT.
“I can’t put into words how proud I am of how much we’ve all grown through some of these experiences together,” Nguyen, a first-generation college graduate, said. “We’ve all worked so hard to get where we are at today. And I am so excited to see all of the amazing things that we will do once we leave the school.”
St. Thomas parent Dan Quinn traveled from Milwaukee to cheer on his daughter Sallie, the first of his children to attend St. Thomas. His daughter Chloe will be a junior; daughter Molly will start at St. Thomas this fall.
“Five hours away is almost on the edge of too far away, but it’s been a great experience,” Dan said. “St. Thomas was wonderful overall once Sallie got through the challenges of the pandemic, got reengaged into campus life and friends, and studied abroad. ... Having this Catholic university for us really helped in that formation. It was really, really valuable.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Lange, EdD, told the students how impressed she was with their resilience and dedication.
“You quickly pivoted to online learning, you adjusted to all the COVID measures put in place, and you came back to campus ready to be engaged both in and outside of the classroom,” Lange said. “You’re gonna continue to be OK because you made it. You did it! Thank you for getting involved on campus, making a positive impact on the St. Thomas and the Twin Cities community during your time here.”