Listen, mentor, and serve, Commencement speaker tells Lawrence Tech grads
SOUTHFIELD—The Class of 2021 endured incredible hardship during the pandemic, and needs to continue a life of service exemplified by the healthcare workers whose efforts have saved so many lives in the Year of COVID-19.
That was the word Saturday at Lawrence Technological University’s Spring 2021 Commencement ceremony, streamed live online Saturday, May 8. Commencement speaker Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, at the ceremony.
In his speech, Loepp told the graduates: “Your accomplishments are tremendous. They’re made even more impressive by the fact that you reached this day while adjusting to a new environment filled with unique personal and academic challenges.”
He added: “Throughout history you are one of the few graduating classes that will receive a diploma at your homes or in small gatherings. These changes only add to the significance of your achievements. One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of a solid college education as your foundation—especially from an esteemed institution like Lawrence Technological University. The values emphasized by your university will serve you well—leadership, character, innovation, an entrepreneurial spirit, and service to society and humankind. These are important values the world has always needed, and we need them now more than ever.”
Loepp paid special tribute to LTU’s inaugural class of graduates in its new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. “As the president and CEO of Michigan’s largest health insurer, I know first-hand of the vital role of health care professionals, and the critical importance of nurses in the healthcare ecosystem. The pandemic revealed to the world something we in healthcare have known for a long time—that our frontline healthcare workers are true heroes. To this pioneering class of nursing graduates at Lawrence Tech: we all thank you for your selfless pursuit of caring for others.”
Loepp offered three pieces of advice for the new graduates: “First: Please heed this mantra, which is attributed to a Greek philosopher and has always resonated with me: ‘We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ Be an active listener. It will benefit you personally and professionally in many ways. Secondly: Be intentional about making personal and professional connections. Seek mentors who will help you grow, learn and lead. Developing these bonds will help you arrive at where you are truly meant to be. And when you get there, be sure to offer that same support to others. Thirdly: Know with confidence that, right now, you have the tools necessary to make a difference in this world. Make it a priority to be of service to your communities, help those in need, and do your part to create a world that is inclusive for everyone.”
LTU President Virinder Moudgil also lauded the graduates for overcoming the adversity of the pandemic: “Today, the members of the Class of 2021 are welcomed as alumni of Lawrence Tech. Some 40,000 graduates who have gone before you have made a remarkable difference here and around the globe. Today, ours is a world rife with challenges. However, as generations of alumni have found, great challenges also create great opportunities. Your predecessors have made significant contributions to the space program; great technological advances in energy; in the aircraft and automobiles in which we travel; and to the design and construction of our infrastructure and other aspects of our built environment. LTU alumni have also led remarkable progress in computers, and developed many other consumer products we all use. Many are engaged as entrepreneurs in the start-up and leadership of successful new companies. Most recently, some have stepped up to fight the global pandemic. Today you, too, join this prestigious group of alumni.”
At Commencement, LTU also presented its Alumni Achievement Award to Cheryl Eagan, senior vice president of support services at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. Eagan, who earned a Bachelor of Science in architecture from LTU in 1978, oversees facilities management, design, construction, environmental services, emergency management and more at the hospital, supervising 1,200 employees and an annual budget of $85 million.
Two LTU students will also be recognized as winners of LTU’s 2021 Ed Donley Distinguished Graduate Awards: Evan Holdwick, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in architecture, and Axey Vang, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Donley award winners are selected by the LTU Alumni Association Board of Directors. The awards recognize not only academic achievement, but also participation in campus activities, employment while a student, and involvement in professional associations and the community.
Holdwick has been deeply involved in organizations for under-represented groups at Lawrence Tech, including Out at LTU and the Black Student Union, and advised incoming students seeking reassurance about LTU’s supportive culture. Vang is a member of LTU’s inaugural class of nurses, and was a resident assistant in LTU’s residence halls and a four-year starter on LTU’s women’s lacrosse team.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers nearly 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
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