Monday April 30, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

About 2,000 students - the most ever in any one semester - will receive degrees when they cross the stage in three separate ceremonies this weekend.

A projected 1,460 students will receive undergraduate degrees at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, May 6. More than 350 students will receive graduate degrees at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, May 5, following the 9 a.m. commencement ceremony for nearly 180 law school graduates.

Each ceremony will be in University of Dayton Arena and available live online by visiting the related link.

Combined with degrees granted earlier this academic year in August and December, about 2,900 Flyers will earn degrees, a record for one academic year.

For 26-year-old visual communication design major Krystal Byrne of Ottoville, Ohio, it's been an eight-year journey. She overcame a leukemia diagnosis in her freshman year, heart and kidney failure and multiple transplants.

Like Byrne, Will Mohr of Tipp City, Ohio, hasn't let medical problems stand in the way of his education degree. Mohr will graduate in four years despite a diagnosis of pediatric bone cancer as a senior in high school. Since then, he juggled his schoolwork and student-teaching assignments with seven surgeries, including one to remove a lung, and chemotherapy treatments.

Lawrence Kondowe's journey has been long, as well, but on the basis of distance. Kondowe, an economics major who is in the Marianist Leadership Scholars program, traveled 8,317 miles to the University of Dayton from his native Malawi where he was a community water collector. His path to graduation was about as clear as mud when he started. In Kondowe's first year, a professor noticed he was having trouble reading the board. Kondowe had poor vision for many years but never had the opportunity to see an eye doctor in Malawi. A University of Dayton alumnus in town gave him an eye exam and a local non-profit arranged for Kondowe to get a pair of glasses, making his road to graduation day much clearer.

Barbara Stahl doesn't even have to see her barriers to smash through them. Stahl is legally blind, but she has not let that stop her from graduating from the School of Law with honors — a distinction she also earned in graduating from Xenia High School and Wright State University.

Nora Duffy Award winner Angela Isenbart didn't face medical problems or the Atlantic Ocean to get to graduation day, but her road has been long and difficult, nonetheless. It started in 1992 when she started taking classes before life as a military spouse and mother of two slowed her down. In the 20 years since, she has endured nine moves and three years of deployment for her husband — two of them combat deployments in Iraq — and picked up college credits as she could. When her husband, Matthew, was assigned to the University's ROTC program as a military instructor, she found help to finally clear the obstacles in her path. Angela qualified for tuition remission and Matthew assigned his military educational benefits to her. All of her credits from previous stops transferred to the University. With a bachelor's degree in general studies and minors in social work, sociology and psychology, she hopes to work with veterans and military families. 

Graduation for journalism major Jeremy Garcia Vinluan marks the culmination of a yearlong journey during which he committed himself as a lay Marianist. He did so in part by writing a letter a day as a way to explore the Marianist charism. The first letter on April 30, 2011, went to his mother thanking her for attending his Marianist commitment ceremony. The last one went to his late grandmother on her birthday, April 30. She was much of the inspiration for his commitment to the Society of Mary. In all, he has written to what he calls "367 children of God" who have touched him in various ways, including some strangers.

Job prospects for this year's University of Dayton graduates, as well as those for graduates nationally, appear to be looking up. Employers responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2012 Job Outlook Spring Update say they expect to hire 10.2 percent more new college graduates from the college class of 2012 than they did from the class of 2011.

"We definitely are seeing more of our students mulling job offers this March, April and May compared to last March, April and May," said Jason Eckert, University of Dayton director of career services.

If this year is better than last year, the news is outstanding for University of Dayton graduates. Ninety-five percent of spring 2011 University of Dayton undergraduates responding to a University of Dayton Office of Career Services survey reported being employed, pursuing an advanced degree or participating in a service program within six months. Each of the University's four schools offering undergraduate degrees — engineering, education and allied professions, business, and arts and sciences — had a 93 percent success rate or better.

"This is a testament to the value of a University of Dayton degree," Eckert said. "A University of Dayton education prepares our graduates for the workforce, post-graduate studies, the military or a service program such as the Peace Corps. Whatever your career aspirations, the University of Dayton can help you reach them."

For complete information on all of the University of Dayton's graduation ceremonies, visit the related links.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or