Class of 2011 graduates in Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center field house

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Photo slideshow by Alex Keil, Sports Editor

The St. Thomas undergraduate class of 2011 graduated Saturday in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation field house. The ceremony was held indoors because of rainy weather; however, the sun came out just as the undergraduate candidates processed into the field house.

This is the first indoor graduation ceremony on campus since 2006. The class of 2010 graduation ceremony was held in the Metrodome in Minneapolis because the athletic center was under construction, and there was no rain site.

Graduates kept a positive attitude about the indoor ceremony.

Brett O’Brien said, “I’m glad [the ceremony] is here and not somewhere else.”

“It’s great to be graduating. It seems like the past four years have flown by,” O’Brien said. “It’s hard to believe I am done.”

O’Brien plans to continue his education at the graduate school in Minneapolis studying accounting.

Every student was given three rain tickets for the ceremony. To compensate for the limited seating, overflow viewing rooms, such as the John Roach Center auditorium, were opened with a live stream viewing of the ceremony.

O’Brien was able to obtain an extra ticket for his family.

December graduate Jennifer Cielinkski had four family members who sat in a viewing room.

This was the first year without a winter graduation ceremony, and December graduates were able to walk in the ceremony.

Cielinski said it was “exciting” to walk at graduation with her friends.

“Every time I’ve visited since I’ve graduated, it’s been weird; and I don’t feel like I know anyone,” Cielinski said. “But today it’s exciting because basically everyone I know here.”

Cielinski has found a teaching job since graduating.

The 1,299 undergraduates join more than 80,000 alumni with bachelor’s degrees.

Kristin Reller and Demar Lewis, senior class representatives, presented St. Thomas President the Rev. Dennis Dease with the 2011 senior class gift. The class voted to fund a January-term study abroad scholarship. The class had 50 percent participation and raised $32,000.

Lewis said this participation showed “support for the university.”

Dease thanked them for the gift, which he called something that would be “deeply appreciated by people year after year.”

Donations will be accepted until June 30.

Kenneth Hackett was the guest speaker and received an honorary degree. Hackett is the leader of Catholic Relief Services. He has dedicated his life to service starting with the Peace Corps after graduation from Boston College in 1968. For more than 40 years, Hackett has done a variety of service work with Catholic Relief Services.

Hackett recalled his experiences in Bosnia, Somalia and Rawanda that changed his life. He called this an “institutional awakening” at Catholic Relief services that challenged its commitment to Catholic social thought.

He connected this to students and challenged them to lead ethical lives based on social and ethical teachings at St. Thomas.

“Take what you’ve learned here and valued here,” Hackett said. “Do that and you’ll prosper, prosper in everything, money, heart and soul.”

Tommie Award winner Daniel Carr spoke on behalf of the senior class.

Carr thanked his friends, family and professor who inspired and influenced him throughout his time at St. Thomas.

“Never give up the support you are provided,” Carr said. “Each one of us wouldn’t be the twice the person [we are] alone.”

The graduate school ceremonies were also held that day. Liz Pojar said the morning graduate class consists of 661 students, 200 more than in 2009.

Pojar added that there are 350 business graduate students.

Theresa Malloy can be reached at

3 Replies to “Class of 2011 graduates in Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center field house”

  1. Congrats, class of 2011!

    And to all you TommieMedia commenters who have made TM an exciting place to be for the last two years, thanks! It’s been fun! I may lurk about, but I’ll try not to be one of those alumni who hang about the site for years after graduation. (Unless I go the Kathryn Pogin route and get a job on-campus, in which case I will be all over TM as usual.)

    Also a big thanks to the moderating team, who have silently kept these comments sane and safe for the past two years. Dunno about the rest of you regular commenters, but I’ve had so many comments bounced back to me by the mod team over the years I’ve lost count! Great bunch of people, that’s for sure.

    May the new UST class keep TM comment threads a wild and happenin’ place!

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