Graduating students and their families will hear the stories of a fellow student’s perseverance when they attend National Louis University commencement exercises.
For Illinois students, commencement will be held Saturday, June 20. Wisconsin commencement will take place May 29, and Florida commencement will be June 12.
In Illinois, Sabrina Rencher, who is obtaining her B.A. in Criminal Justice, will be the speaker for the College of Professional Studies and Advancement (formerly known as both the College of Management and Business and College of Arts and Sciences) commencement.
Poonam Patel, who is obtaining her M.Ed. in Specialized Endorsements, will speak at the National College of Education commencement in Illinois. Vanessa Hurtado, who will receive her B.A. in Elementary Education, will be the singer and perform the national anthem.
In Florida, the speaker will be Nancy Martinez , who obtained her Ed.D. and is participating in commencement with 16 other students from the first doctoral cohort at NLU Florida. Kendall Louise will sing the national anthem at the ceremony.
In Wisconsin, the student speaker will be retired U. S. Army Sgt. Garry Lawson, who is obtaining his Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership degree. In 2014, he was recognized by the Department of Defense Troops to Teachers program as one of 48 exemplary teachers across the country that year. He is a Special Education Teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools.
NLU alum D’shaunta Stewart, who holds an M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning and Assessment, is back for a return engagement at the Wisconsin commencement after singing the national anthem at last’s year’s graduation.
The university called for students to audition for the speaker roles a few months ago, and a committee evaluated speakers based on their speaking quality, articulation, grammar, stage presence, the degree to which they presented inspiring messages and other factors.
Students are not paid to be speakers; however, Jose Marroquin, associate director of NLU’s Student Services Department, said they often use the speaking engagement as professional development, and many list it as a distinction on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They’re also honored as part of the party on the platform at commencement exercises.
“Students who audition tend to be seeking some sort of public speaking experience, or they may have a non-profit, church or volunteer group they’re trying to get exposure for,” Marroquin said.
“Many of them also tend to have a strong personal story, such as ‘I wasn’t meant to pursue higher education but I did, and I persevered.'”