MOLINE --St. Ambrose University graduates were thanked in advance Saturday for the decisions they will make in the future that will make the world a better place.
The encouragement to charge ahead and always hold and live the St. Ambrose mission was offered to more than 650 graduates in the 2011 spring commencement address at the i wireless Center byJoan Rosenhauer, executive vice president for U.S. Operations at Catholic Relief Services.
"It is at times like this we reflect on what our next phase in life will be," Ms. Rosenhauer said, adding that many people question what they can do to change things.
She said everyone can make choices as consumers and citizens to make a difference. "We can choose to get involved and have our voices heard for those in need in every stage of our lives," Ms. Rosenhauer said.
Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose, said the graduates took many roads to their accomplishments. Some students came to the university straight from high school. Others took classes while raising families.
"We congratulate you for your perseverance, hard work and success," she said, adding every graduate needed to thank their family, friends, mentors and guides for their support.
"Humble gratitude is a gift for the giver and the receiver," she said. "Take from here a commitment for service and give back to your community."
Senior class president Bridget Rohan said graduating actually gives each of them one more chance to be freshmen. They are starting all over, again. "The faculty and staff at St. Ambrose have prepared us to go out into the world ... to carry us into our next phase of life," she said.
"Hold onto the excitement of the opportunities that lie ahead," Ms. Rohan said.
Tess Jones, Eldridge, Iowa, wrote her daughter, Makaila Peters, Davenport, a card Saturday telling how proud she is of her daughter's accomplishment. Ms. Peters graduated with a master's degree in social work.
"When you have a child, you want the world for them. She has been persistent and shown perseverance. She has gone after the world. That is what any mom wants for their child," Ms. Jones said.
"She is a very smart girl, very compassionate. I love she is in the social work field as she has the ability to dig in and work hard on issues. She loves dealing with children and wants to be a family counselor someday. It is something to be proud of," Ms. Jones said.
Friday was Sheri Snyder's birthday. She straightened her gown then touched her cap and smiled. "This is my birthday present to me," she said.
The Walcott, Iowa, woman earned a master's degree in criminal justice, a goal she obtained after many people told her she would fail, she said.
"I feel my education got me to where I needed to go," Ms. Snyder said, adding she may go back to earn a Ph.D. to become an professor. "I would recommend to others to never give up and to do something you will enjoy afterwards."
Anne Marie Henderson earned a master's degree in occupational therapy. The Albia, Iowa, woman said the day was a culmination of a lot of work. "The experiences we've had have made us who we are today, whether those were social or academic, or the good friends we made and have today."
"St. Ambrose has prepared us for the next chapter in our lives," said Renee Holst, Dewitt, Iowa, who also graduated with a master's degree in occupational therapy. "The possibilities are endless."
A total of 677 degrees, including 458 bachelor's degrees, 212 master's degrees and seven doctoral degrees, were conferred during the ceremony.
Ms. Rosenhauer also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the university.