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Mental health advocacy, game design drive DePaul University grads

Commencement ceremonies set June 9-10 for Class of 2018

CHICAGO —More than 6,700 DePaul University students are graduating this year and many will gather this weekend at five commencement ceremonies to reflect on their accomplishments. Among them will be a Marine veteran with a heart for mental health, an esports enthusiast with a vision for community service and a game designer who uses video games to boost empathy for chronic disease.

Five of this year’s graduates spoke with DePaul Newsroom about how their university experience has driven them from theory to action and what they plan to do next. They will join more than 182,000 DePaul alumni worldwide who have succeeded in a learning environment that values both academic achievement and community responsibility.

The June 9-10 ceremonies will be held at Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop. A sixth ceremony was held in May for the College of Law. Details about the ceremonies, including information about speakers and a live video stream of the events are online at

Here are some of the stories from the Class of 2018:

Alysa Bloodsworth | B.S. in Neuroscience with a dual degree in Arabic Studies
College of Science and Health
After serving as a suicide prevention advocate in the Marines, Alysa Bloodsworth studied neuroscience to seek answers for veterans with PTSD. Read more>>

Cassandra Murff | B.A. in English
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Living in the aftermath of homelessness, Cassandra Murff tapped into the power of mentorship to propel herself through undergraduate studies. Read more>>

Esteban Perez | B.S.B. in Accountancy
Driehaus College of Business

Entrepreneurship and a passion for gaming inspired Esteban Perez to pitch a business with a purpose — community centers that use esports to reach Chicago’s underserved youth. Read more>>

Gracie Straznickas | B.S. in Computer Game Development with a minor in Animation
College of Computing and Digital Media
Game design goes deeper than entertainment for Gracie Staznickas, who creates video games that boost empathy, understanding and self-awareness of diseases and mental illness. Read more>>

LaSheda Brooks | J.D.
College of Law
In May, LaSheda Brooks graduated from DePaul University’s College of Law with plans to serve in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. Read more>>

About DePaul University
DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States and the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest, with nearly 23,000 students and some 300 academic and professional programs. It is nationally recognized for incorporating service learning throughout its curriculum and preparing its graduates for a global economy.

DePaul was founded in Chicago in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century priest for whom the university is named. DePaul’s tradition of providing a quality education from a broad range of backgrounds, with particular attention to first-generation students, has resulted in one of the nation’s most diverse student bodies. More information is at


Media Contact:
Kristin Claes Mathews