Recent Newman graduates reflect on virtual commencement, higher education and future


The time for graduation has come yet again, and though the 2020 commencement ceremony was somewhat unorthodox, seniors were happy to have their accomplishments acknowledged.

Several seniors — or rather, alumni — shared their thoughts on the 2020 virtual spring commencement.

Alumnus Jose Rojas-Montero admitted a certain amount of disappointment regarding the lack of a physical ceremony but understands the necessity of an online option.

2020 graduate Jose Rojas-Montero

“I was very disappointed with the circumstances,” he said. “Graduation for me and my family meant that we got the best excuse to get together, which is something that rarely happens as we’re all in different parts of the globe. My parents were figuring out tickets from Venezuela, it was a big deal. But as a future nurse, I completely understand the circumstances and that commencement online was the best possible choice at the time.”

Alumna and Library Assistant Dyana Baca expressed a similar feeling.

“It was very strange. I know some struggled to pull it [up], but once it was set up it was easy. We bought a screen and projector in order to watch it on a big screen. I thought it was sad that I have sung for the past three graduations live, and when it came to mine, all I heard was a recording.”

Baca went on to share her countless memories of Newman’s atmosphere, saying, “I loved the family feel I had while attending. My best communities were my choir family and my library family. I knew I could always trust them and am always happy around them.”

2020 graduate Courtney Klaus

Continuing with comments on the commencement itself, new alumna Courtney Klaus explained, “I actually felt a lot better about the online graduation after it happened. I think the school made the right call given the circumstances, and that it was nice to have that closure, that bookend, to my time at Newman at the same time that I finished my classes.”

She was particularly impressed by how smoothly it went.

“I think everyone in University Relations did a great job on the video. I also think, given that we were one of the first and only schools in Kansas so far to attempt something like this, that we really showed people how it’s done.”

These ambitious, hard-working alumni are all especially excited for their futures, which they credit to the quality education they received from Newman. 

Rojas-Montero, for instance, still cannot believe that his time at Newman has come to an end.

“It feels amazing and kind of unreal,” he exclaimed. “For me, the studying is not really done, probably never will [be], as I’m getting ready to take my licensure exam soon, but it’s crazy to think that I’m done with school for a while. It’ll probably feel very real next fall when everyone’s back in class and I’m putting my scrubs on to go to work.”

He then expanded on his future plans, stating that he is ready for the next milestone in his career path. 

“Short term, I’m looking forward to passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) soon so I can finally say I’m a registered nurse and starting my job at Wesley Children’s Hospital. This has been a lifelong dream of mine and I’m just ready to learn and put all the things I learned to practice.”

2020 graduate Dyana Baca

For Baca, graduation has been the beginning of a fork in the road, but she knows she’ll make the right decision either way.

“I’m stuck between two things. The first is probably for me to get a Master of Library Science or a Master in Music Business. Maybe both. What has me happy is knowing I have a steady job and many opportunities open for my future.”

Klaus, too, is forging ahead with her eyes set on the future.

“I’m studying at Notre Dame to become a lawyer. While I’m not sure yet what my practice will be, my goal for myself is to find an area where I feel like I’m making a positive difference in the world.”

On the topic of future aspirations and opportunities that Newman has provided, Alumna Madeleine Dellinger is pleased to continue her path at BG Products, Inc. 

2020 graduate Madeleine Dellinger

“My hope is to become a full-time research and development chemist. I thoroughly enjoyed my year at BG because — in general — I’m very interested in cars, I’m process-oriented and I enjoy working with my hands. I hope to learn more about the industry and more about engines. There’s so much to learn. I’m really excited.”

Dellinger also hopes to build on the educational foundation that Newman has provided for her.

“Getting a Ph.D. has always been a goal of mine but, because of my success at BG Products, I’ve decided to hang around Wichita for a few years and give back to my community before pursuing higher education.”

Suffice it to say, though the ending may have been different from what everyone expected, the class of 2020 is now ready to venture out into the world and make their degree of difference.



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