The 3,043 members of Grand Valley's Winter Class of 2023 were celebrated by academic leaders, friends and family during Commencement ceremonies at Van Andel Arena on April 28-29.
GVSU Winter Class of 2023 honored during Commencement ceremonies at Van Andel Arena
Following the opening processional, the ceremonies began with remarks by Felix Ngassa, professor of chemistry and chair of the University Academic Senate.
President Philomena V. Mantella welcomed graduates to this significant milestone, acknowledging that the Winter Class of 2023’s college experience was anything but traditional as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This part of your life’s journey truly was unlike any experienced by those before you,” Mantella said. “And while these years tested -- and maybe even, at times, strained -- your resolve, I also know they have strengthened you in ways you’re only beginning to understand. You have persevered and you have triumphed.”
Mantella then recognized this year’s guest speaker and honorary degree recipient, James P. Hackett. Hackett, former CEO of Ford Motor Company and Steelcase, received an honorary doctorate of business administration and made remarks at the Saturday morning ceremony.
Following Hackett’s recognition, Jenny Hall-Jones, vice president for Student Affairs, introduced the ceremony’s student speaker. At the Friday evening ceremony, Priscila Onteveros Chucatiny, an international student from Bolivia receiving her bachelor's degree in computer science, spoke about the importance of perseverance and how her time as an international student at Grand Valley helped her reach her full potential.
At the Saturday morning ceremony, Judith Eguzoikpe, an international student from Nigeria receiving her master's degree in public health, spoke about her empowering experiences at Grand Valley and the importance of not giving up on your dreams.
At the Saturday afternoon ceremony, Javier Guillen, a graduate student receiving his master’s degree in cell and molecular biology, shared stories of growth, and expressed his gratitude to those who impacted him during his time at Grand Valley.
“The truth of the matter is that it took a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and ramen to make it here,” Guillen said. “But it also took a village filled with support, encouragement, motivation from our peers, family, and mentors from GVSU that stood by us.” Guillen is the first graduate of the HBCU/HSI consortium with GVSU.
Following the students’ remarks, Mantella welcomed Kaitlyn Markus, Sadie Essex, Rob Kyle III, and Tumaini Sango to perform “Brave” by Sara Bareilles and Jack Antanoff.
The conferring of degrees was led by Mantella and Fatma Mili, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs.
Graduates moved their tassels and were dismissed as official members of the Winter Class of 2023.