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Summer 2016 graduates earn degrees at Commencement ceremony

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette conferred 287 degrees during its Summer Commencement ceremony on Friday at the Cajundome Convention Center.

Bachelor’s degrees were awarded to 231 graduates and master’s degrees were awarded to 42 graduates. Thirteen graduates earned doctoral degrees. One graduate earned a post-baccalaureate certificate.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, told graduates that “the choice you’ve made—to earn a degree—will serve you well for the rest of your life.”

Savoie cited recent studies that indicated what qualities and skills employers were looking for in potential employees.

“They want men and women who can think critically and who can solve problems,” he said. “They want employees who can introduce new ideas and fresh perspectives. They want professionals who are responsible, ethical and who have integrity. These are the qualities that universities strive to instill and nurture in their students.”

Keynote speaker Dr. John Tetnowski, a recipient of the UL Lafayette Foundation’s 2016 Distinguished Professor Award, urged graduates to “celebrate your success, but also try to remember the lessons you’ve learned along the way.”

Tetnowski, the University’s Ben Blanco Endowed Professor in Communicative Disorders encouraged graduates to consider some of the lessons he’s learned doing work and research that centers on stuttering.

He shared several stories of people he’s worked with who stutter, and what their courage and perseverance taught him. One story centered on an 11-year-old girl he met during a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa.

Although Tetnowski worried there was little he could do to help the young girl during the pair’s brief encounter, he nevertheless offered a few tips to help her improve her speech.

The next day, he encountered the same girl again. Tetnowski noticed her speech was markedly improved. Surprised, he asked her if the few techniques he had provided the day before had helped her. She said, yes, and that she had stayed up all night practicing them.

“I learned two powerful lessons from that little girl,” Tetnowski told graduates. “One, is that hard work goes a long way. The other is that hope is really powerful.”

View a list of Summer 2016 graduates.