The St. Thomas undergraduate commencement ceremony was held off campus Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center after the graduating class of 2014 voted on the venue during its junior year.
1,265 students graduated during the ceremony, which was held off campus for the first time in three years so more people could attend. In previous years, each graduate was given two guest tickets for an indoor ceremony in the case of bad weather.
Maureen Carberry, who received a degree in neuroscience, said she was happy the ceremony was held at the Convention Center.
“I like that we can have as many people that we want to come,” Carberry said. “It’s a nice change.”
Zach Vaughan, who received a degree in mechanical engineering, also said he thought the change in location was positive.
“I liked to be able to have as many people as I want come and watch,” Vaughan said. “Not dying in the sun was nice.”
The ceremony featured Dan Buettner as the commencement speaker and a speech from Emily Kindlespire, senior class representative.
Buettner, a St. Thomas alumnus who traveled the world with National Geographic on a search for the healthiest places on earth and created Blue Zones, gave the graduates advice on how to live longer and happier lives.
“For about a dozen years I studied the people in the world who are measurably most successful,” Buettner said. “I want to convey some of their lessons, rather than my own.”
He said living in a good environment, having meaningful work and forming positive friendships help create a happy life.
“How long you live and how good that journey is, at least some of it, in many cases most of it, is up to you,” Buettner said. “What you can do is either live in the right environment or shape your own environment.”
Kindlespire said a college education is a privilege and that graduates should use their degrees to help others, just as they were helped on their road to St. Thomas.
“We are here today because of the generosity of others,” Kindlespire said. “I challenge us to continue to carry out our university’s mission statement.”
Kindlespire also reminded the graduating Tommies of the weight a college degree brings.
“We need to remember the responsibility that comes with having a louder voice,” Kindlespire said.
President Julie Sullivan also wished the graduates well.
“This is the most loyal and supportive alumni network I have ever encountered,” Sullivan said. “You are part of the Tommie family. We wish you the best in all of your ventures in the years ahead.”
Grace Pastoor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.