Lolita Hernandez, an award-winning poet and author who spent 33 years as a union autoworker, drew upon her own experience as she addressed graduates of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters on Sunday, April 27.
“I learned that you must always tell your own story. Never let anyone weave it for you, which leads us to ask: How do you get a story to tell? Smell the roses and make some noise. Eschew the shortest road between two points. Remember that twisted path I was telling you about earlier? Take it. That’s the University of Michigan way,” said Hernandez, a lecturer at U-M Ann Arbor. “Don’t be afraid to be bold and explore.”
Earlier in the day, Nathan Forbes spoke to graduates of the College of Business, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and College of Education, Health, and Human Services. Forbes, managing partner of The Forbes Company and vice chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, challenged graduates to give back to the community through involvement and philanthropy.
“It is the responsibility of each of us throughout our careers to contribute to a society that has allowed us the opportunities that we receive,” Forbes said. “It’s not what you want to be when you get older; it is who do you want to be when you get older? Who will you become and what will be your ultimate legacy?”
The university conferred more than 800 degrees during the two ceremonies, including 597 undergraduate degrees and 252 graduate degrees.
Five students also received Chancellor’s Medallions for their academic record, character, intellect and integrity:
- Livonia resident Aaron Iwaniec, College of Business;
- Livonia resident Jonathan Suchara, College of Engineering and Computer Science;
- Dearborn resident Kelsey Wydendorf, College of Education, Health, and Human Services;
- Bloomfield resident Miriam Bukhsh, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; and
- Ypsilanti resident Walaa Tout, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.
Students Zidong Li and Wedad Ibrahim Ibrahim shared the lessons of community they learned at UM-Dearborn.
“Here, we have not just learned to excel in our careers,” Li said during the morning ceremony. “We have learned to become passionate, committed in civic engagement and in community service.”
Ibrahim built on that thought in the afternoon ceremony. “We all were given opportunities to be engaged and committed students for our university—but also, as engaged and committed citizens within the metropolitan Detroit community,” she said.
“After we walk across this stage, we will enter a constantly globalizing, ever competitive world as University of Michigan-Dearborn graduates. And the lessons we have learned will carry us through. But the inclusive perspective and team mentality the University of Michigan-Dearborn taught us will set us light years ahead of anyone out there.”
View more photos on UM-Dearborn’s Facebook page.