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Mount Saint Mary’s Class of 2017 celebrated graduation

Walking toward the future: The Class of 2017

Mount Saint Mary’s Class of 2017 celebrated graduation with a pair of commencement ceremonies this May. On May 8, graduates from the University’s traditional baccalaureate program, its associate’s degree program and its Weekend/Evening College bachelor’s program received their diplomas in a ceremony at Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

The day’s keynote speaker was Farah Pandith, a diplomatic entrepreneur, foreign policy strategist and author. In addition to serving as an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, she is also a member of Secretary Kelly’s Homeland Security Advisor Council.

Pandith dedicated much of her address to the full participation of all in our democracy: “What happens here at the Mount illustrates a principle that should be the starting point of every conversation, policy discussion & democratic decision made around the world,” Pandith said. “This is our world. Not his world. Not her world. Not their world. Our world.”

She knows well the conversations going on around the world. During a career spanning over two decades, Pandith has served in the public and private sector. She served as a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama administrations at the National Security Council, U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of State. Most recently, Pandith was appointed the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities by Secretary of State Clinton. She is also a key architect of the Women in Public Service Project, of which Mount Saint Mary’s University is a member.

“Having greater representation for everyone isn’t only about human rights and bedrock principles. It’s about making sure we can maximize our chances of success,” Pandith told the Class of 2017. “If we’re going to tackle the greatest challenges of our time, we need to assemble the widest selection of smart thinkers we can find. We need to hear from people with different perspectives, experiences and strategies. We need everyone’s voice around policy discussions and at decision tables.”

Four days prior to the undergraduate commencement ceremony, Mount Saint Mary’s Graduate Division celebrated graduation at St. Vincent de Paul Church, next to the University’s Doheny Campus. The event marked the first separate commencement service for the Mount’s 10 graduate programs.

Jacqueline Powers Doud, PhD, served as the Graduate Division’s distinguished speaker. She previously led the Mount as both provost and president the University over a 20-year period. In 2011, at the conclusion of her 11-year term as Mount Saint Mary’s first lay president, Doud was named president emerita. Academic programs thrived during her leadership of the Mount, and several new undergraduate and graduate degrees in both arts and sciences were formed. She is also the recipient of the Carondelet Medal, which represents the highest honor awarded by Mount Saint Mary’s University and is bestowed on individuals whose achievements or public service have expressed the values of the university and advanced its mission in an extraordinary manner.

In her address, Doud highlighted the growth and excellence of the Mount’s burgeoning Graduate Division. “Your graduate community enriches the academic environment for the undergraduate, weekend and evening students of the university,” she said. “And I’ve noticed that you exhibit a willingness to support one another rather than to outshine each other, recognizing that success for one is success for all.

“My wish for you now is that you become who you are,” Doud added. “Becoming who you are calls you to become your best and most authentic self.”

Each commencement ceremony also included student tribute speakers from each area of the University. Below are the commencement tribute speakers for the Class of 2017.

  • Xenia Vidal Marquez ’17, Associate of Arts tribute speaker
  • Kenny Simkins ’17, Weekend/Evening College tribute speaker
  • Araceli Mateo ’17, Baccalaureate tribute speaker
  • Lequarius Ruttlen ’17 MS, Graduate Division tribute speaker

To watch a special video, “Memories from the Class of 2017,” as well as to read more about this year’s commencement exercises, visit

There are also photo albums from each ceremony on Mount Saint Mary’s Facebook page:

Congratulations to Mount Saint Mary’s Class of 2017!

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