Highlights from Marquette’s 2023 Commencement ceremonies

Marquette University’s 142nd Commencement was held Saturday, May 20, with 1,828 undergraduates, 849 master’s degree recipients, 394 professional studies graduates and 72 Ph.D. recipients celebrating at Fiserv Forum.

The day’s festivities were took place over two ceremonies, with an undergraduate event in the morning and a graduate event in the afternoon.

Watch a 60-second recap of the undergraduate Commencement ceremony here.

Below are some highlights of the speeches shared during Commencement weekend:

President Michael R. Lovell

“As you leave our campus, I ask three things of you. First, follow in the spirit of St. Ignatius and Father Marquette to be problem solvers and agents for change.

Next, when considering the road that you will follow in life, please make decisions about where your God-given talents will make the biggest impact on the lives of others. Remember that fame, wealth and power can be taken away in an instant, and that true fulfillment occurs when you make the world a better place.

Finally, no matter how far away life takes you, please know you will always have a home at Marquette University. Stay engaged and let us know how you are doing. Nothing makes us prouder than to hear how you are changing the world.”

Marlee Matlin, 2023 undergraduate Commencement speaker

“Be The Difference. I love this motto of Marquette because if there’s anything my life has been about, it’s been being different. Different as a woman who grew up deaf, part of a vibrant culture of millions of Americans who communicate in beautiful American Sign Language. And far from the stereotypical image of someone who is deaf and who lives in a world of silence, my life is not much different than yours.

As my kids will tell you, I’m loud, and silence is probably the last thing you will ever hear from me. And by loud, I mean my thoughts and opinions are loud, about injustices and all the -isms that are out there in the world. Agism, racism, ableism, audism. Instead, I’m all about idealism, individualism, and best of all, optimism — a belief that if we embrace the philosophy that all of us are to be treated equally with love and respect, then all will be right in the world.”

John Gurda, 2023 graduate Commencement speaker

“Expect change. Not just that, but accept change and even embrace change. Every career is a wilderness of variables. In academia, tenure is never guaranteed. In business, not every deal will close. In health care, entire systems can change overnight, and your jobs with them.

But you might also find that magical mentor or that question you could spend a lifetime answering or those co-workers who become like family. Both the obstacles you’ll encounter and the opportunities you’ll find are completely unknown and subject to change.

And isn’t that part of the excitement? Isn’t that the wonder of finding your place in the world?”

Jamal Hanson, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences graduate and 2023 undergraduate student speaker

“What ties us together at Marquette is that, like family, we choose one another. This is the promise of Marquette. That we would choose one another in love. Being a part of each other’s lives implicates us in a personal way. We become responsible for the people we care for. In this community, we find belonging.

This responsibility calls us to give of ourselves freely to others: our hearts, our minds, our strength and even ourselves, that which we strive and struggle to give to our friends and families. And yet, to do this is to be left with a joy and peace for tomorrow in spite of our exertion.

The beauty in giving ourselves away is that we become known, not only to ourselves, but to others. You are worthy of being known. Not always as the presentable son or the self-giving daughter, but as you are. Be known.”

Dr. Paige Peters, doctoral graduate of the Opus College of Engineering and 2023 graduate student speaker

“Curiosity takes many forms throughout our lives. It ranges from my 4-year-old niece asking, ‘What’s that?’ to everything to late night bar chats about whether the color orange came before the fruit or vice versa to creating new technologies to protect the integrity of our lakes and rivers. It does not matter about what we are curious, but only that we remain so.

And the place where that curious 4-year-old in us all should thrive is academia. Our job as graduate students, among the many tasks, is to gain knowledge or conduct research so we can capably ask good questions and solve big problems. But I fear that the culture of curiosity in academia is suffering under the demands of the outcome. I fear this because the state of the world cannot afford the luxury of less curious people.

Without a healthy culture around curiosity where the emphasis is on discovery, it’s easy to feel like not getting it right means you’re wrong. Goodness, just let us be wrong sometimes! Because when you feel that failure isn’t an option, failing becomes inevitable. And it is no longer about papers and experiments; it’s about our minds, our well-being, our relationships.”

Danny Chekal, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences graduate and Baccalaureate Mass student speaker

“One of my very first classes was Theology 1001 with Dr. Conor Kelly and Father Ryan Duns. It was Wednesday at noon in a large lecture hall in Marquette Hall, filled with 200 or some first-year students. I’m sure many of my fellow graduates remember this course because you were probably there. It seemed like half the freshmen class was enrolled. The biggest thing I remember that class was two question Father Duns asked us: ‘Who is your God?’ and ‘What does your God call you to do?’

Not only do today’s readings seek to answer these questions, but these questions have been answered gradually through my time at Marquette. My answer to both questions is Love. God is love, and God call us to Love. This has been the most important things I’ve come to see at Marquette.”

Photo galleries

Undergraduate Commencement

Graduate Commencement