Friends and family joined the graduates of the University of Louisiana Monroe on Saturday, Dec. 14 for the Summer/Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremony in Fant-Ewing Coliseum. A total of 772 degrees were awarded.

President Nick J. Bruno, Jr., Ph.D., introduced honored guests, including, keynote speaker Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs Alberto Ruiz, Ed.D., Vice President for Information Services and Student Success Mike Camille, Ph.D., and Vice President for Student Affairs Camile Currier.

Bruno announced it was a special day at ULM with the class of 2019 (spring, summer and fall) establishing,

“Our six-year graduation rate is higher than it has ever been. In the last 10 years, it has increased 53 percent. Even more impressive is more students are graduating within four years. We have seen an increase of 160 percent in our four-year graduation rate over the last 10 years.”

Bruno noted the large number of students majoring in the health sciences and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs.

“Of the 772 degrees, 48 percent are in health sciences or a STEM major. That’s nearly 50 percent of our graduates. We are certainly responding to the call for these high-demand degrees,” he said.

The total degrees include 181 in the College of Arts, Education and Sciences, 263 in the College of Business and Social Sciences, 245 in the College of Health Sciences and 83 in the College of Pharmacy.

Bruno recognized special groups within the class, including veterans and active-duty military, student-athletes, members of student organizations and international students.

“One of our international students traveled halfway around the world to be here,” he said.

Lok Man Chau from Hong Kong earned her MBA from ULM through a program established in the 1970s with Hong Kong Shue Yan University.

Bruno then introduced the guest speaker, saying, “I believe Dr. Kim Hunter Reed is the most qualified commissioner this state has ever had. We are very fortunate to have her join us today.”

“To the class of 2019, congratulations on the accomplishments that have led to this momentous occasion,” said Reed. “Seventy-five percent of ULM graduates remain in the state, and 50 percent in the 12 parishes of Northeast Louisiana. Your state needs your talent and your passion more than ever.”

Reed encouraged graduates to continue learning, saying, “Be a forever learner. Create the highest, grandest vision for your life.”

As an example, Reed recognized Robert “Bobby” Bentz, who at age 73 received a Master of Art in Military History.

“You have a true ambassador of lifelong learning today,” she said.

Reed recognized two students for overcoming personal obstacles to earn their degrees, Tressie Frith of Tallulah, who through ULM Online earned her Bachelor of Business Administration, and Constance D. Gray of Delhi, who as a single parent earned a B.S. in Nursing.

Following Reed’s comments, Chris Michaelides, Ph.D., Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Education and Sciences, announced the graduates as they received their diploma. Bruno congratulated and shook hands with each one.

Degrees went to 766 graduates, 516 women and 250 men. They represent 55 parishes; the top three are, 236 from Ouachita, 34 from Rapides and 27 from Caddo. The students are from 23 states, the most from Louisiana with 667, followed by 35 from Texas and 18 from Mississippi. Internationally, 13 students came from nine foreign countries, six from Nepal and one each from Ireland, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Nigeria, Philippines, Romania, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Six undergraduates were recognized for maintaining a 4.0 GPA during their college careers, Samantha Maria Hale, Prairieville, B.S. in Elementary Education; Bidhan Bhandari, Nepal, B.S. in Computer Science; Madalina Grigoriu, Romania, B.B.A. in Accounting; Shelby Elise Joyner, Calhoun, B.A. in Political Science; Katrina Rose Aguilon Magbojos, Philippines, B.B.A. in Accounting; and Meagan Alexis McCaa, Columbia, B.S. in Kinesiology.

The university will close for winter break Dec. 21-Jan. 1, 2020.

Offices reopen Jan. 2 and classes for the spring semester begin Monday, Jan. 13.

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