Saturday’s spring Commencement ceremony will loom as a huge milestone in the lives of 902 Gannon University graduates.
As final exams are turned in, years of all-nighters, group projects and labs will all come together for all of the graduates’ time in the spotlight as they float across the stage to signify the completion of their undergrad careers.
The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. at the Erie insurance Arena and will feature speeches from key players including university President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Robert N. Lynch, who retired in November as the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Although retired, he is still an active member on the board of trustees of the Saint Vincent de Paul and St. John Vianney seminaries.
He is also a part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Advisory Board of the Cause for Beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen and the Maryknoll Bishops Advisory Committee, to name a few.
Despite being as involved as he is in Florida he has taken the time to travel to Erie to deliver the keynote speech to Gannon graduates, their families and friends.
Saturday will also feature the annual baccalaureate Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Peter Cathedral on West 10th Street.
While it’s an exciting time for seniors, some of them are apprehensive about the shift from college to the “real world.”
Senior physician assistant major Lauren Bailey is looking forward to graduating and continuing her education as a PA as she prepares for summer classes with her program and rotations afterward.
“It’s so exciting and scary at the same time,” Bailey said.
Bailey isn’t the only one in her class who has some reservations about graduation. From the stage to the airwaves, Tom Barton, a senior theater and communication arts major, said he is sad to leave Gannon behind for a little while, but he is thrilled to get out into the world and make his mark.
“I feel like I am prepared for whatever comes my way, and I am confident that I’ll land somewhere on my feet and be able to thrive because of my background,” Barton said.
Barton said he will be going back home to Pittsburgh for the summer but acknowledged that he might be back in Erie for a job in the future.
Anne O’Neill, advertising communication program director in Gannon’s School of Communication and the Arts, has close ties to a number of the graduates. Some of them are students and one of them is her own son, senior Brendan Klemensic.
O’Neill’s imparting advice for the graduates can be found hanging on the wall in her office — a list of lessons for a happy life. She said the first one is “This is your life. Find your passion and pursue it.”
O’Neill realizes that most students won’t have the job they’re passionate about right away but they need to work through that and keep striving to find what their passion might be.
“I know from teaching at Gannon all these years that if you find something you really enjoy doing, that work can be that passion and then it isn’t the drudgery of a job but instead is a love that enriches life,” O’Neill said “I hope I’ve instilled that in my students.”
Best of luck to our graduating seniors and don’t forget to come back and visit—you will be missed.