5/31/19 | “From the onset of your time here, the Wildcat Way has been instilled in you. You’ve been taught to focus on pride, courage, character and community. Don’t leave these values behind in college, but find ways to carry them into every aspect of your life, including your career.” These words from Dave Wilkinson '19 Hon., Atlanta Police Foundation CEO, set the tone for JWU North Miami’s 2019 Commencement ceremony.
Wilkinson, who served 22 years with the United States Secret Service, recounted moments when the four tenets of the Wildcat Way helped guide his decisions as assistant special agent in charge of Presidential Protection under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush. He recalled the courage it took to advise the president as he decided to “leave flight ’93 in the air or bring it down to prevent even more lives from being lost on 9/11.”
You’ve prepared for your future in countless ways. You will continue to be a Wildcat.”
Student speaker Kelsey Keane '19 reflected on those tenets, too, and the impact they’ve had on her collegiate experience. From campus events — like World Celebrations and Sugar Shack — to the unwavering support from faculty and staff, whom she referred to as a “permanent cheer squad,” Keane felt she was truly immersed in the Wildcat spirit as a student at JWU North Miami.
“In everything we did as Wildcats, we exercised that sense of community. And as I look at all of you today, I’m filled with pride at the coming together of such a diverse and promising group of young adults,” Keane said.
Keane’s words struck a chord with many of the graduates who could relate to the joy they felt during their time at JWU. They could also relate to the reality that this time had come to an end and the next chapter was about to begin.
As they moved their tassels from right to left signifying their transition from students to alumni, the words from Campus President Larry Rice, Ed.D. '90 became all too clear: “Your time at Johnson & Wales University has been well spent. You’ve prepared for your future in countless ways. As alumni, you will continue to be a Wildcat and have pride in your university and in the continued success and progress that lies ahead.”