Advice to graduates: Be fearless, but don’t forget to breathe

"Take hold of the opportunity to participate in what scares you. The reward for doing so may not be tangible, but it will certainly strengthen you in your God-given purpose."

Jamie Nicole Hollins '17, student commencement speaker

At Mount Mary University’s winter Commencement, held Saturday, Dec. 16, graduates and their families celebrated an educational milestone that President Christine Pharr, Ph.D., called their “defining moment.”

“This is a tremendous advantage you’ve given yourself that continues to give back your entire life,” said Pharr, the University’s new president, who arrived in July. This ceremony marked Pharr’s first commencement.

The Mount Mary educational experience has been transformational, said Jamie Hollins, an English major who transferred to Mount Mary in 2016 as a senior. Embittered by her educational journey to that point, she explained that she had planned to do the bare minimum it would take to graduate.

But Hollins said she found herself on a journey of self-awareness through her Search for Meaning class and her experiences writing for Arches, the student publication.

“My experiences at Mount Mary called into question my willingness to participate, to have self-discipline, courage and be alive,” she said. Now fully prepared to take the next step, Hollins will work as a full-time literacy tutor and has been accepted into Mount Mary’s graduate program in English.

“Take hold of the opportunity to participate in what scares you,” she told graduates. “The reward for doing so may not be tangible, but it will certainly strengthen you in your God-given purpose.”

Counseling faculty member Terri Jashinsky offered matter-of-fact advice in staying connected to this sense of purpose.

“Feeling your heartbeat reminds you of your purpose,” said Jashnsky, who was awarded the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award. “The same applies to feeling yourself breathe. Feeling yourself breathing, that is purpose you’re feeling, and it is inside every one of us.

“Slow down and breathe as you experience this moment, this day,” she continued. “And as you do that, I hope you recognize that there probably isn’t a better motivator or confidence-builder than a reflection on your own successes.”

A total of 119 students from summer and fall 2017 terms graduated Saturday. See more graduation coverage and download Commencement photos on Mount Mary's social media.

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