Governor honors Donnelly graduates at commencement ceremony

Ninety-six Donnelly College students graduated on Saturday, May 12, in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo from Donnelly College)

Donnelly College held its 69th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12, at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas, honoring the graduating class of 2018.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer was in attendance, providing a charge to graduates during the ceremony. This was the first time a sitting governor has attended a Donnelly College commencement ceremony.

“Today as you walk off the stage, you are at a crossroads,” Gov. Colyer said. “You aren’t just making decisions, you are making choices. And these choices only come by opening your heart, opening your mind and to your soul to all the growth and discovery and possibilities that’s there.”

Gov. Jeff Colyer was the first Kansas governor ever to address Donnelly College students on Saturday, May 12, at commencement. (Photo from Donnelly College)

The 2018 Donnelly College graduating class consists of 96 students – 35 students that received a Practical Nursing certificate and 61 students that have earned an academic degree, including 11 Bachelor’s and 50 Associate. Of these graduates, 72 percent were first-generation college students.

During the commencement ceremony, two student speakers, LaCherish Thompson and Todd Kinney, addressed their fellow graduates. Thompson spoke about how each graduate has lost dreams, dreams that have potential and worth pursuing.

“Take back your dreams,” Thompson said. “So when I tell you the sky is the limit, tell me, ‘I’m ready to fly.'” And when I tell you to dream as big as the ocean, tell me, ‘The largest body of water cannot contain what I can do,’ and when I tell you that the possibilities are endless, as far as the East is from the West, tell me, ‘I can do all things through Christ (who) strengthens me,’ and when I tell you the world is yours, tell me, ‘I already have it in my hands,’ and when I say, you can be anything, absolutely anything you want to be, tell me, ‘I know I can and I will be.'”

During his student commencement speech, Kinney told the graduates that as long as they continue to fill their souls, they will be successful in life.

“You have filled your souls with knowledge and grace and it will never die,” he said. “We can fly people to the moon and back in one piece, but even with all that, no human being can or ever will be able to touch, takeaway, create or destroy a living soul – only God can do that. Our souls (are) God’s everlasting gift to us. And that is why, as long as you continue to fill your soul with knowledge and grace, today is only the beginning. Only the first of your life victories.”

Donnelly alumna Dr. Liza Rodriguez, Class of 2001, gave the commencement address. Rodriguez challenged graduates to remain true to themselves, respect others and give back to the community.

“I challenge you to one day stand on this podium and inspire future generations of college students to find their drive and fight for what they are passionate about,” she said. “The hardest mathematical equation and the toughest challenges in life help you grow strong and realize your truest potential. And never forget to help others on the way.”

Donnelly’s commencement ceremony also celebrated seven graduates from the Gateway to College program, a high school completion program partnered with USD 500 Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, where students earn their high school diploma and receive college credit from Donnelly.

Following the commencement ceremony, Donnelly College’s Practical Nursing (PN) graduates were recognized in a pinning ceremony, which is a traditional rite of passage for nursing school graduates across the country.

The ceremony was led by Sandra Tapp, director of nursing, who congratulated the 36 graduates for their many accomplishments during the 16-month program.

Graduates were pinned by a nursing faculty or a nursing friend from the community who inspired them to pursue and finish the PN program. Donnelly’s PN graduates lit their lamps and recited the traditional Florence Nightingale pledge to close the ceremony.

– Story from Craig Doty, Donnelly College marketing and communications director

Donnelly College graduates listened to commencement speeches on Saturday, May 14. (Photo from Donnelly College)

2018 Graduates
Gateway to College
Julieta Castro
Brianna Davis
Andres Moreno Esquivel
Vilma Palm-Perez
Melanie Quinonez
Sydney Soverns
Abby Wiser

Practical Nursing
Said M Ali+
Gertrude Agyeiwaa Amissah
Mimi Assefa+
Joslyn Michelle Brockman+
Gabriel Lisa Brown+
Kaitlyn Nicole Collins+
Marie Roseline Leroy+
Jennifer Garcia+
Kenya Glover
Jalisa Dianna Haynes+
Amanda Danielle Hester
Jazmon Elaine Howell+
Tonya M Keightley+
Seumhy A. Lavadores Cortez
Eva Z. Loya+
Neema Gidion Mambo
Erin Michele Mead
Omari Mkindi+
Aly Mponezya
Joyce Waithira Njuguna Mwangi
Linnet Waceke Njunge Augustina Ofori+
Cherise Anitra Ornelas+ Vanessa LeAnne Paxton*+
Kaylen Adina Peltier
Ruthie S Jean Philippe
Jamie Rodriguez
Janae Rodriguez
Ayten Shah+
Rachel Leanne Smith
Aida Sole
Ja-Lynn Rayanna Weathers+
Crystal Marie Whittiker+
Keona Nonnetta
Denise Williams+
April Witherspoon+
Danielle Wynn+

Associate of Arts
Rebeca Alcala*+
Alejandra Nicole Alvarado Rodriguez+
Cynthia Alexis Arenas+
Arleth Azucena Arevalo Tovar+
Jose R. Ayala Morales+
Edith Alejandra Ayala+
Holly Christine Berg+
Keith-Eric Boyd+
Luz Calderon*+
Koral Calderon Ruiz+
Mariela Selena Celaya Batres+
Isidora De Sustaita+
Jessica Diaz
Mariel Fierro
Beatriz A. Galindo Mendoza+
Shanna Pearl Gardner+
Anna Marie Gerkovich+
Wasiba Ibrahim Hamad
Brandon Teron Harrison+
Michelle Lilana Hernandez-Abarca+
Maria Alejandra Herrera*+
Jakila Hullaby+
Majestye Antoinette Ivory
Ilse Rubi Jimenez Valenzuela+
Todd Ricardo Kinney*+
Marylu Lopez+
Maria Gricelda Magana Arias+
Shelly Savanna Matlock
Helary Medina-Martinez*+
Miriam Mendez+
Shams Mohammed+
Ana Karen Mojica Mendoza*+
Araceli Morales+
Martin Navarro
Yoseline Chanelle Palmas Perez+
Angelica Trinidad Perez*
Jhoana Perez Omana+
Celia Margarita Ramirez Mendez+
Zulina Yetlanezi Ramirez+
Elizabeth Rodriguez+
Ada Marisol Sanabria-Flores*+
Esmeralda Sandoval-Ramirez+
Alyssa Kay Smith+
Romy Than+
Mariana Valles Meza+
Pedro Velasquez+
Peilong Zhou

Associate of Applied Science
Jeffrey Lynch

Bachelor of Arts
Camila N. Alvarez*+
Alexandra Scott Baez Cruz+
Jamaal Clayton
LaCherish Lanese Thompson*+
Yolanda L. Trummel+
Alejandra Valles Meza+
Sherita Nichole Miller-Williams+

Bachelor of Science
Tyler Hagstrom*+
Magali Rubi Rojas Serrano+
Jose Jairo Baldovinos+
* Member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society
+ First-generation college student

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