Walden University’s 60th Commencement Celebrates Over 6,000 Graduates
Minneapolis—August 3, 2018—Walden University celebrated its 60th Commencement on Saturday, July 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota, with more than 1,100 graduates and 4,700 guests in attendance. Overall, Walden had 6,199 graduates joining its international network of alumni, which includes more than 126,000 members from over 160 countries.
Justice Alan Page, the first African American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court, served as the keynote speaker and inspired graduates to use their education and preparation to push beyond self-perceived limitations and be involved in their communities.
“Each one of us has the obligation to act in ways that builds rather than diminishes our character, and the character of those around us,” said Justice Page. “Consciously applying the values you’ve learned from your Walden education will serve you well as you strive to be a person of good character. Doing so will also serve society well, as you go forward to make a difference in the world. As members of the class of 2018, you are among the privileged few. I ask that you use that privilege, the power that comes with it and the tools that you have acquired at Walden to do what you can to bend the moral arc of history toward justice.”
Award-winning filmmaker and photographer Carolyn Jones, who specializes in telling stories that shed light on issues of global concern, was the featured speaker for Walden’s nursing ceremony. Having created impactful nursing documentaries, Jones urged graduates to “be noisy” because their education, compassion and nursing experience puts them in a unique position to make the world a better place.
“You are hardwired to care for others and your profession will reinforce that day after day after day. That makes you unique and valuable citizens,” said Jones. “Walden University has prepared you well to be the change we need. You are on the frontlines of humanity and facing the unknown with enormous courage each day. We are so lucky to have you.”
Dr. Crystal Francis, a 2018 PhD in Public Policy and Administration graduate, spoke at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. As a member of the class of 2018, she encouraged her fellow graduates to remember their ‘why’ as they pursue their dreams and make an impact on the world.
“As Walden University graduates, we are committed to advancing positive social change in our respective fields,” said Dr. Francis. “Our education provides access to endless opportunities. Never follow someone else’s dream for your life. Create your own footprints in the sand for others to follow. And, while you’re on your way to the top, don’t forget to reach back and pull someone else up.”
In addition to the ceremonies, graduates, faculty and staff were honored during commencement weekend, including:
- Dr. Wilfred Hing Sang Wong, a 2018 PhD in Public Health graduate from Hong Kong, received the Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for his dissertation, The Association Between Child Abuse and Attempted Suicide in Hong Kong. This award is bestowed upon a Walden student whose dissertation is judged as meeting the highest standards of academic excellence.
- Dr. Wen-Hung Kuo and Dr. Curt Sobolewski, School of Health Sciences faculty, and Dr. Fred K. Tabung, Barbara Solomon School of Social Work and Human Services faculty member, received the Bernard L. Turner Award, which is given to the faculty dissertation committee of the Harold L. Hodgkinson Award winner.
- Dr. Mick Needham, a 2018 Doctor of Education (EdD) graduate from Knoxville, Tennessee, received the Frank Dilley Award for his doctoral study, Behavioral Outcomes of the BOSS Teaching Program With Adults With Intellectual Disabilities. This award is bestowed upon a Walden student whose doctoral study is judged as meeting the highest standards of academic excellence.
- Dr. Peter Ross, Dr. Karen Slonski and Dr. Steve Wells, faculty in The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, received the Rita Turner Award, which is given to the faculty doctoral study committee of the Frank Dilley Award winner.
- Dr. Lamonte Bryant Tyler, a 2018 Doctor of Information Technology graduate from Baltimore, Maryland, received the Leadership Excellence Award for distinguished scholarship and mentorship. The award honors a student’s leadership contributions that have positively impacted the Walden community during the course of his or her graduate or undergraduate program.
- Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson, a 2015 PhD in Human Services and 2011 Master’s in Forensic Psychology graduate from Bowie, Maryland, received the Outstanding Alumni Award for her research and work with families affected by incarceration. The award honors a Walden graduate who exemplifies the university’s mission to effect positive social change through contributions to his or her profession, discipline or community.
- Dr. Jonas Nguh, School of Nursing faculty member and 2011 PhD in Public Health graduate from Baltimore, Maryland, received the Commitment to Social Change Award for his leadership in global maternal and infant health. The award recognizes employees’ social change activities, whether within or outside the university, that exemplify Walden’s mission of positive social change.
- Amy Zafinandro, associate director of disability services for Walden, received the Ann Rayner Academic Support Service Award for her outstanding work in Student Wellness and Disability Services. This award is granted to a Walden or Laureate staff member who has contributed to Walden’s success through their collaborative spirit and engagement in work and the positive impact of that work on colleagues and students.
- Lourdes A. Rodriguez de Gotay, a 2018 MS in Early Childhood Studies graduate from Tucson, Arizona, received the Academic Performance and Citizenship Award for working to improve educational opportunities for teachers and childcare workers. The award recognizes outstanding performance, service and citizenship and honors the recipient’s contributions that have effected positive social change in their community during the course of his or her graduate program.
- Dr. Nina Ida Marie Spadaro, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty member, is the recipient of the Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate an unmatched dedication to the university’s mission and exemplify the Walden educator’s role in empowering students to advance positive social change in their communities.
Faculty Excellence Awards were also presented to the following individuals:
- Dr. Kisha Walker, The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership
- Dr. Maisah Robinson, Centers for Academic Excellence and General Education
- Dr. Leslie Corrine Trischank Hussey, RN, CNE, College of Health Sciences
- Dr. Verl Anderson, College of Management and Technology
The Walden University community honors its graduating students twice a year at summer and winter commencement ceremonies, with many graduates and guests participating via live webcast.
About Walden University
For more than 45 years, Walden University has supported working professionals in achieving their academic goals and making a greater impact in their professions and their communities. Students from all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 150 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees online at Walden. The university offers more than 80 degree programs with more than 400 specializations and concentrations. Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, hlcommission.org. Walden is one of more than 70 institutions in 25 countries that make up the Laureate International Universities network. For more information about Walden, please visit WaldenU.edu.
Sabrina Ram, Director of External Relations