Saturday, May 14, 2011

UIS students begin a new chapter in life following 40th Commencement

Hundreds of University of Illinois Springfield students celebrated a major milestone in their lives during the 40th Commencement celebration on May 14, 2011. They leave with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a competitive world and the wherewithal to answer life’s bigger questions.

“For each of you, today is a singular event in the story of your life – the unique path that you took that got you here, the personal story leading to this moment that only you can tell,” said UIS Chancellor Harry Berman. “How wonderful it is to share and celebrate those stories with family and friends!”

A total of 734 students took part in commencement, walking across the stage of the Prairie Capital Convention Center. A total of 1,294 students were eligible to graduate.

“On this graduation day, I promise all of you here that the degrees awarded today will serve you well and will grow in value as UIS continues to grow in reputation and stature,” said Berman.

The 2011 Commencement address was delivered by Martin R. Castro, chairperson of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (“USCCR”) as well as chairperson of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and president of a Chicago area consulting firm. In January 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Castro to the USCCR and named him chairperson in March.

The son and grandson of Mexican immigrants, Castro was the first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to obtain a higher education. He received his B.A. in political science in 1985 from DePaul University and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1988. In 2001-2002, Castro ran in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress in Chicago’s Fourth District.

Charles Olivier, the student speaker who earned a bachelor’s degree with majors in Business Administration and Accountancy congratulated his fellow graduates and thanked the professors, staff, and mentors who helped them along the way.

“As we accept our diplomas and walk across this stage, we hope you smile. To whoever doubted the power of teamwork, we are its personification,” said Olivier.

Olivier spoke about his personal journey as a first generation college student and how he unexpectedly ended up at UIS. Four years ago his mother submitted a non-refundable deposit to the admissions office without his knowledge.

He was encouraged to become involved in campus activities early in his career, eventually working his way up to being elected UIS Student Representative to the U of I Board of Trustees. He calls the opportunities he’s been offered “unimaginable.”

“Relationships tell a lot about who we are and we will each walk away with these treasures this afternoon,” said Olivier. As I stand before you today, I don’t fear losing these relationships, but I am eager to nurture them.”

University of Illinois Trustee Karen Hasara, President Michael Hogan, and UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Lynne Pardie also spoke at the celebration.

Photos and more video are available at the commencement website:

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