UDM campus prepares for commencement festivities

As the academic school year comes to a close, an exciting commencement for the University of Detroit Mercy graduating class of 2024 approaches. Hosted on Detroit Mercy’s McNichols campus, students prepare to don their caps and gowns for the much-anticipated commencement ceremony. 

Diane Praet, the driving force behind the organization of the commencement ceremonies, shared insights into what attendees can expect.  

“This year we’re thrilled to host four ceremonies over May 10 and 11, catering to our dental, law, undergraduate and graduate students,” Praet said.  

A Baccalaureate Mass on May 11 will offer a spiritual start to the day, welcoming graduates and guests of all faiths. 

Additionally, innovation joins the graduating students on stage this year as the introduction of new features with the aim of enhancing the overall experience of the ceremony reveals itself. 

 “We’ve listened to feedback and incorporated features like screens displaying graduates’ photos and videos, as well as Detroit Mercy trivia to engage attendees,” Praet said.  

Furthermore, the allowance of decorated caps and the participation of over 60 student organizations promise to add creative vibrancy to the proceedings.  

A common highlight of most commencements is the selection of the keynote speakers, and the valedictorian speech. As of for the keynote speaker, the University is happy to welcome Marlena Peleo-Lazar, a distinguished alumna (Class of ’72) to inspire graduates with her impactful journey, which includes time as the chief creative officer at McDonald’s. Another unique factor to the ceremony is that this year, two students were awarded valedictorian, each giving their own speech. 

For Gavin Mullica, an early graduating student who has accelerated his academic journey, commencement is a testament to his hard work and determination. With plans to enroll in law school ahead of schedule, Mullica sees commencement as a celebration of his achievements and the opportunities that lie ahead.  

“This commencement feels like a celebration of hard work paying off,” he said. “It’s a moment I wouldn’t miss for anything.” 

Abigail Karjala, who dedicates her time every year working the rose sale for the commencement, expressed her excitement. 

“More than anything, it’s always exciting to see how many happy people and families show up to show their support for their loved ones,” Karjala said. “You can just tell how much love and accomplishment Calihan radiates during commencement days. Now that we’ve moved way past COVID, we can see all families smiling faces. Congratulations to everyone graduating!” 

Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, Detroit Mercy remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees. While no specific measures are in place, the university encourages staying updated on vaccinations and respects individual choices regarding mask-wearing. 

With preparations for commencement getting closer and closer to their peak, Praet shares a message of hope for graduating students.  

“Graduation is a memorable day for graduates, their family and friends,” she said. “We hope that all attending enjoy the day and are looking forward to a bright future ahead.”