Congratulations, Winter Graduates
By Matt Hawkins
December 21, 2013
The legacies of Lydia Moss Bradley and civil rights leaders leaders gleamed as Bradley honored 293 December 2013 graduates.
Keynote speaker Joe Billy McDade '59 MA '60 shared life lessons that showed an "African-American born in Jim Crow Texas can rise from picking cotton to the federal judgeship in a journey that epitomizes the American dream."
McDade played in two National Invitational Tournament basketball championship games for the Braves, was named to the University's board of trustees, received Centurion honors and has served in the federal judiciary since 1991.
He exhorted almost graduates to build on societal progress to make a difference in the world.
"You must have the glorious feeling I once had of a sense of unknown potential," McDade said. "Unlike past generations, you don't seem to be bound by inherited or cultural traditions or pretensions. You, more than they, are free to be whatever you want."
University President Joanne Glasser linked Mrs. Bradley's accomplishments with those of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, who died in early December. Glasser applauded Mrs. Bradley's efforts to build a college decades before women were elected to congress or allowed to vote. As Glasser noted, the two figures were about the same age when they achieved notable dreams.
"In her own way, Lydia Moss Bradley also used unwavering determination and focus to reach her dreams by overcoming 19th-century laws pertaining to women's rights," Glasser said. "Both of these individuals were special, unique and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments. Both of these did so through perseverance and commitment to their ideals."
The Class of 2013 included the first hospitality leadership graduates. Five students received degrees from the program that began in Fall 2011.
One of the graduates, Dana Robinson of Naperville, switched to hospitality leadership after she struggled to find the perfect program.
"I found a major that let me follow my passions," she said. "I was thrilled because this is what I wanted to do. There never was a niche for me in college that would let me do what I wanted to do."
Departmental growth and campus recognition through the student club's annual Iron Chef-style event excited the students.
"Having that grow through events was really exciting," Robinson said. "When we got to see [the event] develop, it was a big milestone where everyone got to know who we were."
Fellow hospitality leadership graduate Alesha Reed of Northlake enjoyed the achievement as she recalled valuable internships and relationships at Bradley.
"It feels special to be part of the first class," she said. "I've met a lot of friends here and it's an experience that really helped me."
Lauren Henshaw, a Roselle native, wanted to find a program that would open doors for travel. An introductory course in hospitality leadership led her to the fledgling program.
Program "firsts" meant a plethora of learning experiences for students like Henshaw.
"It was good to figure the quirks so we could go out and create a network for future students," she said.