On behalf of Bellarmine University's Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and alumni, congratulations on earning your Bellarmine degree, and welcome to the distinguished international association of more than 24,000 of your fellow Bellarmine alumni and alumnae throughout the world.

Graduates, this is such a wonderful day in the life of a university. I know that you are all ready to gather with your families and friends to celebrate, but please indulge me and pause for just a moment to more fully appreciate the significance of today’s proceedings.

Today may seem like an ending – and in a sense, it is. It is the ending of your journey as a student at Bellarmine University. But a “commencement” is actually a start – a new beginning – a launching pad, if you will.

I was recently asked to describe an experience with a student that was gratifying to me. My response was perhaps the greatest joy as an educator is watching students develop over the course of their degree programs. It is sort of magic when higher education opens up doors to the world within a student’s mind, dreams and expectations. It is a privilege to watch this experience as you realize your own potential to impact your profession, the community, and the world.

Today, you begin a new journey. You leave Bellarmine University behind, but you also take with you Bellarmine’s mission, which calls upon all of us to use our talents in the hope of improving the human condition. You have embraced this mission, and I hope it inspires you throughout your lifetime.

I have witnessed this inspiration among the many Bellarmine alumni that I have met in the past year, who remain deeply engaged in this society. And I'm reminded of Thomas Merton, the late monk from the Abbey of Gethsemani, who had a long and vital relationship with Bellarmine. “We must make choices,” he wrote, “that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.”

I know, the class of 2018, that you will make those choices. You will be successful. You will be ethical. You will be good. And the world will be a better place because of you.

Congratulations, and Godspeed.