Two graduating Saint Xavier University (SXU) students have been selected to give speeches at this weekend’s commencement ceremonies. These students, selected through a competitive process, created speeches with words of inspiration to the graduates reflective of the time they spent at SXU.
The 2018 Commencement Ceremony student speakers include: Stephanie Schmeski Ryan, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, will deliver her speech on Saturday, May 5 at 9:30 a.m. to graduates of SXU’s Graham School of Management (GSM) and School of Nursing (SON); and John Lafe Shannon, Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with minors in History, Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies, will present his speech on Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. to graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The commencement ceremonies will be held in the Shannon Center at the University’s Chicago campus, located at 3700 W. 103rd Street.
Stephanie Schmeski Ryan is obtaining her second bachelor’s degree from the School of Nursing and is honored to deliver the student address at commencement. A previous graduate from Saint Xavier University, Schmeski first received a degree from the school of Arts and Sciences where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Over the years, Stephanie has illustrated her love and passion for the Saint Xavier family.
Schmeski says, “When I decided to obtain a degree in Nursing, I knew there was only one place I wanted to go — SXU. SXU became my home away from home. I had such an amazing experience when I obtained my first degree from here. I enjoyed the community atmosphere in addition to the academic experience. I loved that the teachers treat you as an individual and not just a number on a roster. SXU has some of the most amazing faculty who truly want to see you succeed.”
She served as the captain of the dance team, member of Tri Beta honors society and conducted undergraduate neuroendocrine research. Upon graduation, Stephanie expanded her leadership role in the SXU dance program and became the head dance team coach. She has always been inspired to give back to the community and to serve others. Upon her academic return to Saint Xavier, Schmeski has further defined her purpose and desire to work in the healthcare field. She is currently a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society. Schmeski plans to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse. Schmeski would like to thank her parents for inspiring her to never give up, her sister and brother for always being her biggest cheerleaders and her husband for his undeniable love and support.
“My advice to incoming students would be to get involved!” She says, “SXU has a variety of opportunities to offer their students. You just have to look! Don’t be afraid to be open to new experiences and new people. College is about finding yourself and making memories you will never forget.”
John Lafe Shannon is honored to deliver the commencement address at the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony on Saturday. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Shannon has found a second home at Saint Xavier University and has been involved in numerous aspects of University life.
Shannon says, “I knew that I wanted to attend a smaller university where I didn’t feel like just another number. With this in mind, I began my college search and came across Saint Xavier University. With its small class sizes and diverse student body, I knew that I found a place where I could truly succeed both personally and academically.”
Over the course of his time at SXU, Shannon has served as an orientation leader, a resident assistant, a student senator, a cougar peer educator and a CPS grant mentor to local high school students. Always seeking out new knowledge, Shannon travelled to China in the summer of 2017 to participate in archaeological fieldwork at Yangguanzhai, a Neolithic site in China’s central Shaanxi Province. The day after graduation, Shannon will be traveling to Kerekenes Dag in central Turkey to participate in fieldwork once more. This fall, Shannon will begin attending the University of Chicago in pursuit of his master’s in Middle Eastern studies with a concentration in the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia. Shannon hopes to ultimately receive his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and work for UNESCO, helping to protect endangered cultural heritage across the Middle East.
“The thing I will miss the most about SXU is the community.” He says, “Over the course of the past four years, I have forged countless friendships — many of which I know will last for as long as I live. Being such a small school, it’s hard to even get to class without seeing at least three or four of your friends along the way. It pains me to say that this will soon be coming to an end, but we will all remain united no matter where we are by our shared experience here at SXU.”