The annual March Through the Arches, undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies bring the St. Thomas community together to recognize the accomplishments of the class of 2018. Sights and Sounds highlight some of the many thoughts, experiences and memories from the year’s biggest celebration of Tommies.
On a beautiful, warm Friday afternoon, seniors kicked off commencement weekend with a graduation-edition of the March Through the Arches tradition. St. Thomas community members, parents, family, alumni and friends lined the sidewalk leading toward Summit Avenue, applauding as members of the Class of 2018 – appropriately clad in purple T-shirts adorned with the words “Tommies Forever” – made their way from the lower quad through the iconic Arches, marking their transition from students to alumni. Following the march, there was a reception on the John P. Monahan Plaza where students gathered for selfies and photos with friends and family.
“It’s bittersweet. Yes, I’m excited to graduate. I think I’m ready to close this chapter and find a new one. I’m still looking for what that chapter’s going to be. I made a lot of memories here. At first, I was going to do three years here and two at the University of Minnesota, but after the first year at St. Thomas, I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I love my friends, the professors and the campus. – Roumany Phan, senior
“I was thinking about how much I wanted to thank my family for all that they have provided me. They have given me this opportunity and I couldn’t have done it without them.” – Paige Hietpas, senior
“It was a ton of fun to walk with my friends who I’ve made over the past four years. When I first went through the arches, I went through with nobody I really knew. Now I got to march with close friends. It was pure joy.” – Conor Kinney, senior
“It felt crazy. It felt really weird because it feels like yesterday I was walking through the arches coming in and now I’m going out. Those four years went by and they went by fast. It felt good to have all the people there supporting you and congratulating you. I had a good time. Some of my closest friends I met my first year and we’ve been through this whole journey together.” – Tavier Simmons, senior
“I was thinking about walking through the arches when I started here – it was cool. I remember posting it on Vine and that doesn’t exist anymore. I was also thinking about how many friends and mentors and other awesome people I’ve encountered at St. Thomas who have gotten me through the years.” – Allison Lague, senior
“It’s was a feeling of full circle – sentimental of everything that’s gone on here at St. Thomas and really fun to march with Alissa [Thimmesh] both directions.” – Kelsey Faulise, senior
“It was pretty cool to have it come full circle; it was exciting. [Kelsey Faulise and I] walked together when we transferred here and we walked out together, so that was fun.” – Alissa Thimmesh, senior
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s an end of a big deal – it’s emotional. I’m so proud that he could be here. My daughter graduated from here and then finished law school here. John is our youngest. He got a job; Tommies take care of Tommies. We’re very lucky he was here.” – Andy Bryce, parent of senior John Bryce
“It’s a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment. I’m so happy for him.” – Jeff Schultz, parent of senior Dalton Schultz
“I’m very excited. He’s our youngest child, so there’s a sense of accomplishment. Education here has been so important for him and for us as a Catholic family. I’m so proud of him. These four years have given him the wings he needs to move forward.” – Silvia Lewandowski, parent of senior David Lewandowski
“We like the tradition. This is our first graduate through St. Thomas, so it’s something new for us. We’re here to take part in the festivities. He’s had a great experience here and it’s been a perfect place for him.” – Tony Swenson, parent of senior Austin Swenson
“My husband, Tony, had a cardiac arrest at home and Austin was home that night with him and he did CPR on my husband … Tony went to the hospital and here he is today.” – added an emotional Diane Swenson, Tony’s wife and Austin’s mother
“It’s bittersweet because it’s been so great having her here. She’s got a [communication and journalism] major and a women’s studies major, and I’m affiliated with women’s studies as well as COJO. She grew up on this campus; it’s the only school she applied to. I directed the Luann Dummer Center for Women for six years, so when she and her sister were little they were here all the time.” – Debra Petersen, communication and journalism associate professor and parent of senior Camille Fredin
“From a faculty perspective, I enjoy participating in commencement because it’s the final time you get to say congratulations and good job to your students who have worked hard for four years. We’re very happy to see them graduate and know they’re going to go on to bigger and better things, and will make a difference in the community, wherever that community may be. It’s a nice tradition. As a parent, I’m very proud of her and excited because I know she’s worked so hard. – Tom Marsh, associate professor and Chemistry Department chair, and parent of senior Melissa Marsh