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Environmental activist, music educator among DePaul University’s Class of 2019

Commencement ceremonies set for June 15-16 at Wintrust Arena

Meet the Class of 2019
Graduates from DePaul University's Class of 2019 share their stories and plans for the future. Clockwise from top left: Willord Simmons, Jacqueline Sanchez, Baylee Ritter and Amanda Moreland. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
CHICAGO — Stopping plastic from flowing into the ocean. Observing music education behind bars. Earning a teaching degree while parenting. DePaul University students take many different paths in their studies, gaining real-world experience along the way.

Willord Simmons, Baylee Ritter, Jacqueline Sanchez and Amanda Moreland are among the 6,600 DePaul students set to graduate this year from DePaul University and will join more than 186,000 living alumni worldwide. Six ceremonies will be held at Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop June 15-16, and a seventh 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

These four exceptional students are among the many DePaul graduates who have already put their knowledge into practice through teaching, research and advocacy. Here are some stories from the Class of 2019: 

Willord Simmons | B.M. in Music Education | School of Music 
Observing music workshops in prison inspired this scholar to research ways that inmates’ creativity and collaboration could inform approaches in traditional classrooms. Read more>> 

Baylee Ritter | B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising with a double major in Communication and Media and a minor in Environmental Communication | College of Communication 
Keeping plastics out of our world’s oceans isn’t just a hobby for Baylee Ritter. The environmental activist has spoken at the United Nations and sailed a boat made of discarded plastics down a river as part of a life-long effort to educate. Read more>> 

Jacqueline Sanchez | B.S. in Early Childhood Education | College of Education 
Growing up in Chicago, Jacqueline Sanchez admired her teachers in Chicago Public Schools while her family struggled to survive. At age 34, this Latina mom is ready to give back in the classroom. Read more>> 

Amanda Moreland | J.D. | College of Law 
Never turning down an opportunity to serve, Amanda Moreland completed more than 1,000 hours of public service while studying public health law at DePaul. 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 22,500 students and a wide range of academic and professional degree programs. 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. More information is at


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