165th Commencement Celebrates the Class of 2012

The 165th Commencement at Saint Mary's College, May 19, 2012.
The 165th Commencement at Saint Mary's College,
May 19, 2012.
Gwen O’Brien 
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 284-4579

May 19, 2012 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—It was a picture-perfect day for the 165th Commencement at Saint Mary’s College. The sun shone down over Le Mans Green and temperatures soared into the 80s as the 414 members of the Class of 2012 celebrated the culmination of their collective hard work. Students, representing 37 states and four countries outside the U.S. (China, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Bolivia), assembled in the outdoor ceremony before a crowd of more than 3,000 of their loved ones, faculty, and staff.
Nicole Gans '12 speaks to her fellow classmates moments after learning she was named the Lumen Christi Award recipient.
Nicole Gans '12 speaks to her fellow classmates
moments after learning she was named the
Lumen Christi Award recipient.

One of the first ceremonial orders of business was to announce the recipient of the Lumen Christi Award. The award is presented each year to a member of the senior class who is recognized as an outstanding Christian woman; someone who has excelled in leadership and loyalty to Saint Mary’s College and whose presence has had a profound effect on the College community. It is the highest award the College confers upon a student. The Lumen Christi Award recipient for the Class of 2012 is Nicole Gans, student body president. Gans, of Pittsburgh, is an accounting major with a minor in justice education. (Click to read the award citation.)

“Whether participating in an activity through Campus Ministry, volunteering, or studying for classes, her life is totally committed to the spirit that is Saint Mary’s,” Karen Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs, read from the award citation.

Following the Lumen Christi announcement were the valedictories. Co-valedictorians Annie Bulger, a mathematics major from Minneapolis, and Krystal Holtcamp, a biology major from Mentor, Ohio, each offered words of reflection on their time at Saint Mary’s.

“Look to your left and to your right,” Holtcamp instructed her classmates. “You will see the girls who have been your family for the past four years. The faculty sitting in front of you, they have been your mentors, your biggest fans, and your friends.”

“We have received much in our time at Saint Mary’s that will equip us to leave a mark that lasts,” said Bulger. “We have learned to be articulate...We have explored the world from many perspectives...Our minds have been formed here, and so too have our persons...Our faculty have responded to us individually, opened their offices and homes to us, and challenged us to grow. From them, we have learned compassion and generosity.”

Commencement Speaker Mellody Hobson offers her insights to the Class of 2012.
Commencement speaker Mellody Hobson offers her insights to the
Class of 2012. Click to watch her Commencement Address.

Later, Commencement speaker Mellody Hobson, president of money management firm Ariel Investments and a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education, inspired the graduates with her address. She shared her personal story as the youngest of six in a home where money was always an issue and eviction a looming threat. She said it is no accident she works in the finance industry since she was desperate for financial security as a child.

Hobson went on to attend Princeton University and as a sophomore became an intern at Ariel, where she discovered the world of investing. She started at the bottom of a company she now leads. Hobson called on graduates to become financially literate, to not wait for the white knight to come to the rescue, and to take risks.

"The question I ask you graduates is, what will your story be? It’s important for you to realize it will be driven 100 percent by your intention. That doesn’t mean random things won’t happen, but you’ll actually have the life you want if you just decide what that life is,” Hobson said.

Hobson received an honorary degree from Saint Mary's College at Commencement. (Click to read Hobson's award citation.) The College also recognized two alumnae: Kathleen Flynn Fox ’74 received an honorary doctor of humanities degree (Click to read the Fox's award citation & address.) Susan Fitzgerald Rice ’61 received the prestigious President’s Medal (Click to read Rice's award citation & address.)

Click for more on the honorees. Click for more on the co-valedictorians.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2012 published by U.S.News and World Report. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.