Saint Francis celebrates Class of 2024 at Commencement

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The University of Saint Francis proudly awarded degrees to the Class of 2024 today at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

Saint Francis Board of Trustees Chair Richard A. Poinsatte and Saint Francis President Dr. Lance Richey offered congratulations and encouraging words to graduates before an address from keynote speaker Greg Erlandson, retired director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service.

Erlandson engaged the graduates with an inspirational speech urging them to find happiness through service and gratitude, peppering his presentation with cultural references. He applauded the students for persevering over the last few years as they entered higher education during a time of the pandemic.

“The secret to happiness that many of us learned in the darkest days of the pandemic is that happiness arrives when we are focused on something else entirely,” Erlandson said. “The people who endured all the stresses of the pandemic’s darkest days were the happiest and the healthiest when they found ways to help others. ‘Love one another as I have loved you,’ Jesus told us.”

Erlandson advised graduates to take time to savor their achievements and honor those who helped them along the way.

“Today is one of those moments when gratitude is absolutely called for,” he said. “After all, even with all your hard work and determination, getting to graduation isn’t a free solo climb. Yes, you climbed this mountain, you reached this goal, but you did it with the support of so many others. You had parents and grandparents, friends and teachers, brothers and sisters, and maybe spouses who supported you all along the way.”

Erlandson encouraged graduates to continue finding ways to learn as they embark on their professional careers.

“Be proud of what you have overcome,” he said. “Be proud of your resilience. Be grateful for all you have been given, for all your privileges and blessings. Never stop learning from others. Always seek to serve and to support others.”

Saint Francis awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters to Margaret “Meg” Klingenberger Distler, executive director of St. Joseph Community Health Foundation. She urged students to “say yes to the opportunties to help and comfort others,” while being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Saint Francis celebrated the awarding of 583 degrees to 456 undergraduate students and 127 graduate students. These totals included 95 students graduating in online programs and 46 graduating from Saint Francis Crown Point.

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. In addition to its traditional programs, Saint Francis designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the music technology program while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis, recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution, has 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships. Approximately 1,900 students from a broad geographic region attend Saint Francis.