“Live in your own present,” says SIUE graduate at start

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville held commencement drills in the Vadalabene Center’s first community arena Friday and Saturday with ceremonies honoring thousands of eligible graduates.

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Denise Cobb, PhD, conferred degrees on graduates of the Graduate School, as well as business schools; Feeding with milk; and Education, Health and Human Behavior Friday. She also led the Saturday graduation for the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the School of Engineering (SOE) on Saturday.


At Saturday’s 9 a.m. ceremony, CAS student speaker Josie Pauley, who earned a bachelor’s degree in applied studies in communications, encouraged graduates to live in the present and make the most of every moment.

“Live in your own present,” she said. “Once we master the process of living in the present and focusing on ourselves, the possibilities around us are truly endless.”

After stepping into the beginning stage 50 or more years ago, the Gold graduates of the Class of 2022 have been honored. Cobb referred to the speech given by U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy at the opening ceremony of the Golden Graduates in June 1972.

“I would like to read you a few excerpts from his speech, which are still relevant today,” Cobb said. “Remember, the most precious gift you have is the right to be a free citizen in a free society. Use that freedom to participate, shape, influence and matter to the fullest. Much of my faith in the he future of our country stems from my belief that you will maintain your commitment to participate and encourage others to participate.

Elizabeth Semande was the student speaker at the CAS noon ceremony. Semande earned a bachelor’s degree in geography and anthropology. After graduating, she will complete an internship in geospatial analysis at Maxar Technologies.

“Over the past four years, I can definitely say my life has changed,” she said. “All of our people have. The world has changed before we were ready for it. We’ve had to persevere and adapt more times than we can count. We’ve proven that we can persevere through tough times and keep going. to move forward towards our goals. I am confident that we will succeed and create a positive future for ourselves and others by becoming engaged global citizens through our hard work, kindness, creativity, innovation, inclusion and our love of learning.

At the 4 p.m. SOE ceremony, Dean Cem Karacal, PhD, recognized the school‘s dual degree programs with Istanbul Technical University and Changshu Institute of Technology, which offer students from Turkey and South Korea the opportunity to study for two years in the United States.

Madison House earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and represented SOE graduates as a student speaker.

“This class can achieve anything we want, and we can use our creative and innovative ideas, technology skills, and strategic management abilities to build a better future,” House said. “Graduate friends, never stop putting one foot in front of the other, because your story isn’t over yet. This is just the beginning of an incredible journey ahead.

House got a job as an associate electrical engineer at the Callaway Nuclear Generating Station with Ameren Missouri. She will pursue a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at SIUE.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Colin Boysen was the student speaker at the School of Business ceremony. Boysen was an active member of several student organizations, taking on leadership roles and recruiting new members. When the pandemic hit, Boysen led the development of the Cougar Connectors peer mentorship program to support freshmen. Then, he will continue his law studies at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“Your degree represents your courage and determination to succeed despite a pandemic,” Boysen said. “Before you lies an uncertain world. What does it mean to get a business degree in 2022? It means you have proven that you can adapt and overcome. You are prepared for changes and will succeed in the business world despite all the obstacles ahead. The future awaits you. Congratulations!”

During the School of Nursing noon ceremony, awards were presented to Demarco Brownlee and Kaylie Rhoades for their student leadership. Tami Tutor was recognized for her outstanding contributions to community service.

Student lecturer James Clancy received a doctorate in nursing practice through the Nurse Anesthesia program. Clancy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from SIUE in 2015 and worked as a registered nurse in both a cardiothoracic intensive care unit and a children’s emergency department before returning to pursue her doctoral studies. He will begin his career as a nurse anesthetist with South County Anesthesia Associates at Mercy Hospital South in St. Louis.

“We have all spent countless hours studying, undergone numerous exams, and provided high-quality patient care during clinical rotations,” Clancy said. “You’ve done all of this to establish yourself as one of the most trusted professionals in the world.”

The University honored Distinguished Service Award recipient Shirley Portwood, PhD, at its 4 p.m. ceremony for all graduates of the graduate school. Portwood is Professor Emeritus of History at SIUE, a longtime educator, and a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees.

“I am honored to receive this Distinguished Service Award,” said Portwood. “I thank those who have mentored and supported me over the years, including my family and parents, who insisted that all of their children go to college and become professionals.”

“Much of my service has been inspired by the examples I have seen growing up in various communities,” she continued. “From an early age, we learned the importance of community. Each helped the other without expecting reciprocity. We didn’t know the term “pay it forward” at the time, but we did. Reinforced experiences at the SIUE which make him advance the ideology. The faculty encouraged me to rise higher than I had originally planned. My service has been defined by those who have surrounded, nurtured and inspired me.

Now a three-time SIUE graduate, student speaker Charity Eugea has earned a doctorate in educational leadership. Eugea is a school district administrator for Sparta Community Unit.

“Perspective is a powerful tool,” she said. “It can be the lens through which we see the glass half empty or half full, the partly cloudy or partly sunny sky, or as a chance to fail or succeed. As graduate students, we learned to question our way of thinking, to go beyond our understanding of facts, and to truly understand the power of perspective.

Friday’s series of ceremonies ended with a celebration of the graduates of the School of Education, Health and Human Behaviour.

During the ceremony, Cobb awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters to Henry L. Roediger III, PhD, an honor given to individuals who have had a profound impact on SIUE. He is the James S. McDonnell Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Washington. Roediger, a world-renowned cognitive scientist, has studied human learning and memory for the past 50 years.

Carmen Cornejo, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, was the student lecturer. Now, Cornejo will begin teaching fifth grade at Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary in St. Louis while pursuing a master’s degree in education at SIUE.

All ceremonies were streamed live on siue.edu/tv.

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