AMU, Family and Friends Celebrate as 114 Graduate

Published on Saturday, 09 May 2009 17:45
"Now it's time to go out and engage the world," Class of 2009 Valedictorian Miriel Thomas (right) told her classmates at the AMU commencement Saturday morning.

In an address interlaced with humor, Miss Thomas, from Port Huron, Michigan, called the day "the culmination of four years of intellectual struggle." She urged her classmates to stay virtuous as they went forward and to remember, "Civilizations stand or fall on the way we live our daily lives."

Dr. Michael Sugrue, an AMU professor of history, in his introduction of Miss Thomas, called her a "vigorous presence on campus," and "exactly the type of student we hope to produce."  Dr. Sugrue said his wife Seana, who teaches politics at AMU, had predicted while they both marked papers one night that Miss Thomas would be valedictorian.

AMU graduates "can compete with graduates from any college anywhere in the world," said Dr. Sugrue, who was a history professor at Princeton University before joining the AMU faculty.

That theme was echoed later by Chancellor Tom Monaghan, who told the graduating class, "You are well educated and don't take a backseat to anyone at any school -- no matter how prestigious," and, in a reference to President Obama's scheduled appearance at Notre Dame, "regardless of their commencement speaker."

Then, the former owner of the Detroit Tigers advised the class: "Don't be in the bleachers, but get onto the field."


AMU President Nick Healy noted that this was the second class to graduate from the new campus and that it included the first graduates in the university's doctoral program.

He included parents in his congratulations, noting  that a successful college career requires support from the entire family, prompting one of many enthusiastic rounds of applause from those packing the 1,100-seat oratory. (Left, one student leaves no doubt about how she feels about the day)


Daniel Dentino, the dean of students, selected by the Class of 2009 to give the faculty address, commended the graduates for their faith, and cited the ways they have put it into action: building homes for the poor, working in the soup kitchen of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Immokalee, handing out doughnuts and coffee to Immokalee farm workers at 4 a.m., going on missions to 3rd-world coutnries, performing sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics and evangelizing each other.

grad6The commencement speaker, Dr. Thomas Hilgers (right)  urged graduates of Ave Maria University to be leaders in building a culture of life.  Dr. Hilgers is a medical doctor acknowledged as one of the world's leaders in dealing with reproductive health issues in ways  consistent with Catholic teaching.  He  told the Class of 2009 that they need to "stand for what you believe in and always stand for truth."

"When God wants something done in this world," Dr. Hilgers said, "He sends a baby, and then he waits."

"God is waiting for all of you" to be part of the solution, he told them.

Dr. Hilgers was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. The university also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to 91-year-old Michigan businessman and inventor Fran Sehn. Mr. Sehn, who celebrated his 66th wedding anniversary Friday, said, "It is hard to believe this is really happening to me."

At Friday's Baccalaureate Mass, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. (See story here)

Click here for a list of all students receiving academic honors.

Below, graduates file out of the oratory, greeted by faculty and the administration.