Loyola University Chicago

School of Communication


SOC celebrates Fall 2021 graduates

SOC celebrates Fall 2021 graduates

SOC Assistant Professor Julia DeCook, center, celebrates with graduate Abbie Huynh, right, and her mother, Chuc Nguyen, left. Photo by Sanjay Numbia

By Genevieve Buthod

The School of Communication recently restored a beloved tradition: the Fall Commencement Brunch.

The midterm commencement, held on December 15, was attended by 38 graduates, marking the first time the event was held in person since December 2019.

Undaunted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fall 2021 graduates and their friends and family, as well as Loyola faculty and staff, came together to celebrate the students’ achievements in Regents Hall at the Water Tower Campus. Many other guests joined online through a webinar facilitated by SOC Manager of Technology Jamason Chen and videographer Sanjay Numbiar.

SOC Dean Hong Cheng welcomed everyone to the Commencement ceremony with energy and enthusiasm.

 “We are not defined by COVID-19,” Cheng said. “This celebration is a highlight in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. We have all been waiting for this for two years.”

He then encouraged the crowd to give a round of applause for the graduates in attendance both in person and online.

Vice President of Mission Integration Janet Sisler opened the celebration with a prayer of hope for the graduates.

Provost Margaret Callahan also offered brief remarks to the audience of nearly 100 people.

“Everyone is so proud of you and the remarkable lives you are already leading,” Callahan said. “You have dedicated yourselves to service, encouraged and challenged one another, and carved paths for others to follow.”

The student speaker this year was Pablo Rosero, who earned his BA in Multimedia Journalism, and graduated with Interdisciplinary Honors.

Rosero acknowledged the mental health difficulties endured by many college students, including the loneliness of going away to a new city for the very first time, where he knew no one. Being local to Florida, he joked about surviving the Polar Vortex, as did his classmates. And despite mental health struggles, terrible cold, and a worldwide pandemic, he described his “light at the end of the tunnel,” which kept him hopeful all the way to graduation.

In his words, that light, “one of the key reasons I decided to go this university, is the incredible professors and staff at Loyola…I’ll mention a few of you by name because you were special to me: Randy Minkoff; Sarah Dallof; Jessica Brown; Peter Holly; Richelle Rogers; and Peter Kendall. Thank you.”

This year’s keynote speaker was alumnus Everett Gutierrez, Jr., President and Founder of Chicago-based nonprofit Legacy Leaders, which gives young people the tools to develop their highest potential. He is also the author of the book, Chosen: A Call to Leading with Purpose.

Gutierrez talked about his memories of Loyola, including the relief of finishing finals and graduating as Loyola’s first Advertising & Public Relations major. He asked graduates to consider a difficult question—not just the purpose of their respective degrees, but the purpose of their lives. He asked them, “What will you do with the one life you’ve been given?” He said that one cannot expect to find those answers by going to college, but only by looking inward and adapting to new circumstances throughout one’s life.

His advice to students was, “In order to respond to the call of purpose, you have to be willing to take risks. I had to take certain risks myself, things that people thought were crazy, but were necessary for my purpose.”

For those who could not attend in-person or via webinar at the time of the event, Loyola’s IT service has recorded the webinar and can make it available to those guests who wish to view. If you would like to gain access to the video, please contact SOC Events Coordinator Genevieve Buthod at gbuthod@luc.edu.


Master of Communication Degree Recipients

Boe Chmil

Jessica N. Douglas

Bachelor of Arts Degree Recipients

Yasmine Amer

Sean Anderson

Stephani Bakus

Aishah Baranda

Conor Bergin

Keegan Butler

Zachary Coe

Molly Cox

Kurtis Danner

Cameron Dettlinger

Kali Foyle

Steven Gutierrez

Austin Harris

Lane Harris

David Hart

Morgan Hertel

Natalie Howard

Abbie Huynh

Carlos Kirby

Rachael Lombardo

Giann Magno

Samantha McCarthy

Elizabeth Moran

William Newhall

Claire O’Malley

Serena Yagnesh Patel

Maya Popernik

John Sehested-Preetzmann

Pablo Rosero

Sophia Schumacher

Nicole Sister

Jesus Socorro

Lauren Marie Trythall

Martina Valladares

Rebecca Vandeventer