If you missed out on this year’s event, read or listen to Rev. France A. Davis’ speech on unity and student speaker Alisa Cloward’s message about hard work and supporting the success of others.
Class of 2019
Civil rights activist Rev. France A. Davis gave the keynote address at commencement and challenged graduates to “find a way to bring us together.”
Alisa Cloward, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, was chosen as the student speaker.
“I started seventh grade in the U.S. with no prior English capabilities. Spanish was the only language I knew. Despite the challenge, I was able to graduate from the Salt Lake Community College with an A.S. in Speech Communication and transfer to the University of Utah.”
The U will celebrate 8,465 graduates during the campuswide commencement at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Thursday, May 2, starting at 6 p.m.
“I never fathomed that I’d become a widow at 34, left to raise my four children alone, the oldest 15, the baby 2. Medulloblastoma was supposed to be a pediatric brain tumor, so how could it put a 36-year-old man in the grave in just eight months? It felt like déjà vu. My daddy died from glioblastoma brain cancer when I was 20 …. But I’m not going to tell you a sob story. I started school at 35 determined to make a difference in the world of cancer and this fall, I’ll embark upon my next quest—a Ph.D. in oncological sciences studying brain cancer here at the U. If I am able to make a difference in just one life all the years of studying, sleepless nights and sacrificing a social life will be worth it.”
“Coming to Utah let me believe that age and gender will never be a barrier to success. With my deepest gratitude, I humbly share this thought with you: If you believe something is right to do, just do it. When you truly want a thing for better, the whole world will stay united to help you make it come true. Nothing will prevent you from moving further.”
“I first performed at the U’s Babcock Theatre when I was in 4th grade when I was cast as one of the leads for our school play. As a young person pursuing acting, it was something really valuable to have that experience. That is when—as they say—I caught the theater bug.”
“When I was 32, my husband and in-laws convinced me to go back to school. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself…I guess you could say my time here has not only provided me with the necessary tools to find my voice. But more importantly, it’s helped me become the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
“There were days where I didn’t think I was going to make it, days when I couldn’t pay to go to school or didn’t have enough money and I couldn’t afford a meal. I kept believing, even in those dark times, that if you just keep pushing eventually those little pushes will compound to a big effect. Just keep going even when it doesn’t look like there’s light.”