5/25/18 | A little rain couldn’t stop the excitement of the nearly 300 graduates who graced the stage during JWU North Miami’s 2018 Commencement ceremony.
From celebrating the diversity of the graduating class to reveling in the reality that the North Miami Campus was introducing its first-ever class of master’s degree recipients, the theme of the ceremony was apparent: Pride.
“I felt overjoyed,” said Shaina Forbes '18. “When I received my bachelor’s degree in 2015, Dr. Rice was the interim president. To receive my master’s degree from now-President Rice was quite an achievement.”
Rice addressed the soon-to-be grads: “Throughout your educational experience at Johnson & Wales University, you have been an important part of our ongoing growth and development. I share the immense pride of our faculty and staff and what we have achieved together throughout your time with us.”
Student speaker Anelle Telfort '18, whose parents immigrated from Haiti to provide a better life for her and her siblings, spoke of her pride in the extended family she gained when she came to the North Miami Campus: “On September 5, 2015, I was adopted by JWU — the university family had its arms outstretched and pulled me into an embrace that would last forever. The reason we are here today and have reached this milestone is because we were all adopted into the family.”
Honorary degree recipient Maria Sastre, who has held several senior-level executive positions in the cruise and aviation industries, was honored to be a part of such a diverse celebration: “Like many of you here, I was born outside of the United States, and like many of you, my parents and grandparents brought me here and worked hard so my brother and I could succeed.”
Sastre shared her advice to students about navigating their own path: “Identify your true dream. Focus on achieving it. Visualize it and write down the goals you set to achieve that dream. Don’t let others distract you or presume to tell you it can’t be done. Stay on your path — and remember, it’s your path, not theirs.”
She closed the afternoon with a great charge to the graduates: “Go conquer the world, Wildcats!”