Local university students honored at college graduations

NOW: Local university students honored at college graduations

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The class of 2022 shared what these past years have been like for them, juggling school during these unprecedented times, and had some special commencement speakers to celebrate their achievements with them.

"I am a first generation student and I'm very proud to bring this degree home. The feeling is unexplainable," said Jasmine Muñiz, a Marquette University graduate.

They say the journey to success doesn't come easy and that is something the students from the class of 2022 experienced first-hand.

"Because of the pandemic, it's finally our year to be like, we made it, we’ve done it and it can't stop us. We're going to keep going and moving forward," said Chloe Lipka, a Marquette University graduate.

More than 3,400 students from 46 states graduated from Marquette University's 141st graduating class. Students shared what it means to finally get to this point and the challenges they had to overcome with finishing school during a pandemic.

"There's so many challenges that were presented. Everybody had to adjust obviously, but you tell yourself that you have to push through, you have to keep going for the same reason and the same goal," said Muñiz.

Marquette's commencement ceremony at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater featured Dwyane Wade as commencement speaker. The three-time NBA champion who led Marquette to the final four in 2003, spoke on his journey on how he came to where he is now.

"Will your journey have some highlights? Yes. Will your journey have some lowlights? Yes. If you continue to build on your discoveries and experiences, if you establish your moments of solitude and allow yourself a space for self-awareness, you will arrive at a place where you can grow, not on the terms of what somebody else has planned for you but living life on your own terms," said Wade, who also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony.

Wade shared some valuable advice from his good friend, the late Kobe Bryant.

"Those times you don’t feel like working, you're too tired, you don't want to push yourself, but you do it anyway, that is actually the dream. It's not the destination, it's the journey. If you follow Kobe's advice, you won't only accomplish your dreams, you won't simply be your dreams that come true, something greater will," said Wade.

UWM's graduation in the Panther Arena awarded more than 3,500 degrees at its 126th commencement. It featured four-time Academy Award nominee and actor Willem Dafoe. The former UWM student gave a shoutout to his hometown Appleton and shared the life lessons he has taken with him throughout his career.

"I've been an actor for 45 years. The acting profession is filled with uncertainty and rejection and that has forced me to develop equanimity and flexibly and appreciate my failures are as important as my successes and my growth as a person and an actor," said Dafoe.

Dafoe was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts degree at the afternoon ceremony and shared some important advice to graduates.

"Sometimes, it's not what you do that is important, but the attitude you do it with that matters. Be at peace with yourself, find what you love and practice it anyway you can. Serve others, make every step a pleasure and trust it will take you where you need to be," said Dafoe.

The Fiserv Forum hosted MATC's graduation ceremony this year. Over 1,200 students were celebrated for earning an associate degree, technical diploma, apprenticeship and Adult High School graduation.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson attended as the spring commencement speaker and congratulated the class, acknowledging their hard work and sacrifice to get to where they are now.

"Graduates, this is what success looks like. This is what achievement looks like. The glory of the day belongs to each and every single one of you. You have studied, you have learned, you've passed the test, you have accomplished. What we are recognizing you today for is an attainment that nobody can take away from any one of you," said Johnson.

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