Students Kayla Garvert and Marcus Anthony Gonzales were selected to share their reflections following the Baccalaureate Mass Thursday, May 5, in St. John’s Chapel.
“I was stopped by our friendly neighborhood cameraman, Daniel Murphy,” she said. “He asked me how life was going and what my plans were for after graduation. I told him my plans and his parting words were, ‘Well, just make sure you don’t forget about us back here at Newman.’ I don’t know if he remembers that interaction, but I sure do.”
In reflecting on that interaction, Garvert said she realized “to me, Newman means community.”
“It means support. It means finding faith in myself, in my peers and in God. It means that without the people of Newman, I would not be the woman I am today.”
She concluded, “So all of you people are no longer going to be a part of my daily life, but believe me, I will not forget about you. Thank you all of you for teaching me what it means to be human, to be kind, to be charitable and to be faithful. But most of all, thank you for being my friends.”
Marcus Anthony Gonzales
Gonzales, a nontraditional education student and single dad of three, took to the podium following Garvert’s reflection.
He explained that his time at Newman was a journey through three stages.
The first was the excitement stage, he said, and one he remembered “like it was yesterday.”
“It was July 30, 2020, when I received my acceptance letter to the education program from Newman University. I was so excited to let the world know that I do what most young undergraduates do: I posted a TikTok,” Gonzales joked.
The next stage was the uncertainty stage, the one, Gonzales said, that all graduates inevitably pass through. When Gonzales encountered that familiar fear of not knowing if he could achieve what he set out to do, he said it finally passed when he became “willing to surrender his current condition to God.”
“The last and final stage I encountered at Newman University was the sense of belonging stage,” Gonzales said. “This is where I made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood him: a loving God. I suddenly began to feel more comfortable with myself and others. I truly gained a sense of belonging, but it came by finding and helping other people.”
Just as Most Rev. Bishop Carl A. Kemme referenced college being a period of profound transformation, Gonzales concluded his reflection by saying, “I can confidently say that I have been transformed at Newman University.”
“I know this university can be an anchor for other students, a place where they belong a place where they no longer need to feel like they’re on the outside, looking in a place where they too can be transformed today.”
View photos from Baccalaureate in our Flickr gallery below.