Graduates along with their proud families and friends gathered for the 60th Calumet College of St. Joseph (CCSJ) Graduation Ceremony. CCSJ bestowed degrees upon 195 students Saturday, May 21, 2022, at St. John the Baptist Church including 54 from the master’s degree programs, 139 from the baccalaureate degree programs, and two from the associate degree programs.
The graduating class also included students from Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Viet Nam. Additionally, there were two sisters who received their Master’s degrees; Lisa Burns in Psychology and Keli Burns in Management. Not to be outdone, Stephanie Daniels earned two Bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor’s of Arts in English, Writing, and Professional Communication and a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice.
The Valedictorian of the Class of 2022 was Julia L. Fugger of Schererville, Indiana receiving her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. Fugger, who graduated Summa Cum Laude, was also the recipient of the Dvorak Leadership in Teaching Award, the Harold E. Burns Education Award, and the Hearts and Hands Award given for community service.
Fugger is a first-generation college graduate who attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through college. She plans to teach in the Catholic School system as a way of giving back to her community. This upcoming school year, she will be teaching fourth grade at St. Paul School in Valparaiso. She noted her favorite memories from CCSJ come from her Education cohort, the Honors Program, and Campus Ministry.
“The second I came here I felt like it was old family,” said Fugger. “Calumet College is very much a community. It is smaller. You can build relationships with your professors. I have so many inside jokes with my professors.”
Fugger takes with her many memories of her time at CCSJ.
“My favorite memory is hanging Larry Cubalchini’s office, our campus minister, talking about Jesus and eating pizza, talking about whatever. We often got off topic,” she reflected with a laugh.
Fugger had advice for the graduates facing challenges.
“Life is hard. Don’t be a victim,” said Fugger. “Take control. Don’t let society stop you. You have a quality education now and free will.”
Dr. Juan Andrade was the Honorary Degree Recipient of Doctor of Humane Letters. Dr. Andrade is a prominent leader in the Latino community who has spent his career working to strengthen the social, political, and economic rights of minority communities, primarily focusing on issues that affect the Latino community. Dr. Andrade is the co-founder of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, a Chicago-based non-profit organization that aims to fulfill the promises and principles of democracy by empowering minorities and similarly disenfranchised groups through civic engagement, leadership development, and research, and by maximizing participation in the electoral process. In 2001, former President Bill Clinton presented Dr. Andrade with the Presidential Citizens Medal for the “performance of exemplary deeds of service for the nation” and “excellence in promoting leadership and civic participation.”
“Finishing what you started takes character,” said Dr. Andrade. “Northwest Indiana needs people like you. America needs more people with character like you who finish what they start. It is that character that defines who you are, what you are made of, and tells the world that you are good. You are what America needs. Thank God Almighty you all are here today ready to start making your mark.”
The Most Reverend Robert J. McClory, Bishop of the Diocese of Gary, gave the Invocation and The Very Reverend Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., the Provincial Director of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood who sponsor the organization of the College, gave the Benediction
Then it was time for bestowing the degrees. The rain outside could not dampen the spirits of all in attendance as cheers rose up to echo in the church rafters. The graduates and attendees poured outside for pictures and celebrating.
Alicia Williams graduated with her Bachelor’s in English Communication as well as Biomedical Degree. She was feeling excited and accomplished but would miss her time at CCSJ.
“I have a lot of teachers I texted on a daily basis. I had a connection with them,” said Williams.