Five speakers for the University of Dallas graduation ceremonies for the class of 2016 have been announced.
Senior business major Kathryn Mihaliak was elected valedictorian, an honor she accepted with nervous excitement.
“I got asked Tuesday morning,” Mihaliak said. “You know when I ate my next full meal? Thursday. I was told right before [an exam in Fr. Thomas Esposito’s Paul and Acts class], so all that was really running through my mind was Galatians … I’m incredibly humbled to be chosen by my classmates.”
Mihaliak said that despite the difficulty of giving an address at UD, in front of all her classmates and professors, she will approach the task with determination.
“I don’t know [what you say] to compile and find this unity among your classmates and honor your professors, but I won’t let them down,” Mihaliak said.
After graduation, Mihaliak plans to return to her home state of Connecticut to work for Aetna health insurance in their finance leadership department, but not before volunteering in Jerusalem for three weeks, an idea she jokingly blamed on the many theology classes she has been able to take during her time at UD.
Mihaliak’s fellow speakers will be commencement speaker John L. Allen, former CNN Vatican analyst, and convocation speaker Dr. Andrew Osborn, associate professor of English.
Hailed by George Weigel and the London Tablet as one of the best Anglophone Vatican reporters, Allen currently serves as associate editor of the Boston Globe and its website Crux.
Provost Dr. C.W. Eaker said that this accomplished journalist is no stranger to the university.
“Mr. Allen is a gifted speaker and a long-time friend of the University of Dallas, having lectured on our Rome and Irving campuses,” Eaker said. “He was the 8th Landregan lecturer in 2006 and was a keynote speaker for the 2015 UD Ministry Conference.”
Osborn, too, has lectured on both campuses and is a friend to many at UD.
He taught the current seniors while in Rome and, upon returning to Irving in fall 2014, once again taught the class of 2016 in the Junior Poet course required of English majors.
“I am very honored to be asked [to speak at convocation],” Osborn said.
Having only been at UD for four years before his three-year assignment to Rome, Osborn is eager to have the chance not only to address a class he clearly knows well, but also to get excited about his school.
“It’s about being drawn further into the embrasure of UD,” Osborn said.
Senior Jenna Sommer explained that Osborn was a natural choice for convocation speaker.
“He knows our class very well because he was our Lit Trad professor in Rome,” Sommer said. “He is well-loved by our class because he won the vote by a large margin.”
The invocation and benediction leaders, too, are two beloved professors: Fr. Robert Maguire and Fr. Thomas Esposito, respectively.
Fr. Esposito expressed his excitement at having a chance to see off the graduating class through his priestly faculties.
“I like blessing people; it makes me feel like a real live priest!” Fr. Esposito said.
Eaker said that the university is excited to hear these five speakers in the coming month, and Dr. Scott Crider, professor of English and associate dean of Constantin College, concurred.
“Convocation is my favorite event of the year — other than classes,” Crider said. “During the ceremony, teachers recognize students at the end of their education with us, and students recognize their class (a distinct circle of friends in life), their teachers and the special form of life we have all shared as it comes to a close.”
Convocation will be Thursday, May 5, at 3:30 p.m. in the Church of the Incarnation, while commencement will be Sunday, May 15, at 9 a.m. on the Mall.