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Photos: Class of 2024 celebrates commencement

DePaul honors achievements of thousands of graduates at Wintrust Arena

​​(Photos by Steve Woltmann​ and Thomas Vangel/DePaul University)​

It was a joyful commencement weekend, as DePaul honored the Class of 2024 across six ceremonies at Wintrust Arena. Faculty, students, families, frien​ds and community members gathered to recognize the academic achievements of this year’s graduates.  

Many of this year’s graduates enrolled at DePaul in 2020, making this an especially momentous occasion for Blue Demons and their families. Student speakers gave inspiring remarks, and honorary degree recipients shared insights from their fields, spanning from real estate to mental health advocacy. Here are a few highlights from the weekend:

Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media​​

​Honorary degree recipient Kate Crawford, a leading expert on the social impact of AI, encouraged Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media graduates to move forward with confidence. “Class of 2024, your time starts now,” Crawford said. 

“You’ve graduated from a great school that has given you all the training and skills you need, but it has also taught you something just as important: the power of discernment,” Crawford said. “Use it wisely, and bring not just your expertise, but also your humanity. I could not be more excited to see what you’ll do.” ​

College of Communication and College of Education​

​Linda Osei, who earned her master’s in counseling, shared with the audience her biggest takeaway from her time at DePaul.​

​​“There’s something truly special about being part of the DePaul community,” Osei said. “It’s about more than just getting a degree. It’s about forging a lifelong connection, finding your passion and making a difference in the world.” 

Honorary degree recipient Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, shared observations from a lifetime in education. ​

“Human beings are meant to be loved, cared for and respected. Our talents and gifts are meant to be discovered, our unique voices to be heard,” Salgado said. “We hope, we dream, we aspire, we look forward to a better day, a brighter future, new opportunity, a more peaceful and just world.” 

​College of Science and Health, School of Music and The Theatre School​

During the combined ceremony, students from the School of Music performed “Passacaglia” by G.F. Handel. There was even a comedy sketch from students Tanner Sykes and Lucas Johnson. 

Honorary degree recipient Inger Burnett-Ziegler, a nationally recognized expert and leader in mental health care focusing on marginalized populations, encouraged students to follow their passions and use their talents to support others. 

“As you transition from this stage of life to the next, I hope that you live out DePaul’s mission to prepare agents of transformation and effect systemic change,” Burnett-Ziegler said. “I hope that you know the value of your ideas, the power of your voice, your worth separate from anything you ever achieve, and the meaningfulness of your presence. I hope that you are unafraid to be wildly free, that you may always be the light and bring the light and be your fullest, most unapologetic version of you.” ​

Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business

Honorary degree recipient David Hale, founder of the Hale Sustainability Conference at DePaul’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, advised students on ethical business practices. 

“Let's continue striving for business practices that make a positive impact on people's lives and our planet's future,” Hale said.

Many student speakers reflected on the contrast between beginning their studies in 2020 and the triumph of graduating in 2024.

Driehaus College of Business graduate Sarah Saber acknowledged in her speech: “We navigated through times that were unprecedented, uncharted and frankly, unbelievable. But we adapted, overcame and supported each other, through the pandemic and anything thrown our way.” 

Kellstadt Graduate School of Business graduate Stefan Prangenberg echoed this sentiment.   ​

“We began this voyage during the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made us adopt new technologies and ways of working and learning together,” Pranenberg said. “This era of uncertainty strengthened our resilience and adaptability, which will define our generation of leaders.” 

Honorary degree recipient Douglas Crocker, a founding supporter of the Driehaus College of Business Real Estate Center, advised students to use adaptability to their advantage. 

“The basic rules of the game can shift overnight,” Crocker said. “No matter how well-prepared you are – no matter how hard you work – you'll still have to stay agile. You can’t foresee every change. But you can adapt when the moment comes.” 

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies ​​

At the start of the final ceremony Sunday evening, DePaul awarded an honorary degree to the foremost expert on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, Glennette Tilley Turner. Turner commented that education was one of the highest priorities in her family.  

“So it is with great intergenerational appreciation that I receive this high honor,” Turner said. 

Juliana Zanubi, the student speaker and an LAS graduate, also touched on how important family was in her collegiate journey.  

“My mother’s example of empathy and selflessness, and the community-centered experiences at DePaul are pillars of who I am becoming,” Zanubi said. ​