Fall commencement closes out semester with 1,324 new graduates

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Metropolitan State University celebrated its 99th commencement exercises Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016.

Approximately 1,324 students last semester received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, with 775 who participated in the fall ceremony hosted at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Student speakers included Allison Cole of Saint Paul, College of Management President’s Outstanding Student, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Other commencement participants included: Metropolitan State President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur, JD; Interim-Provost and Academic Vice President Carol Bormann Young; Basil Ajuno, chair of the Board of Trustee, Minnesota State Board of Trustees; May Shoua, chair for Metropolitan State University Board; Tene Wells, Metropolitan State University Alumni Association Board president; Dr. August Hoffman, Inter-Faculty Organization representative; Dhiho Hussein, Student Senate president; and Dan Bostrom, Saint Paul City Council member.

Metropolitan State Outstanding Students

Alison Cole

Commencement speaker Allison Cole of Saint Paul was  selected as a fall semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Allison Cole
Allison Cole

Cole graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science and was chosen as the outstanding student in the university’s College of Management and addressed the graduating class.

At Metropolitan State, Cole was active in student life. She was a statistics intern for the university Library and Learning Center, which lead her to become part of the library and information services team. Cole is often recognizable as the “face of Metropolitan State,” with her image featured on numerous billboards and signage throughout the Twin Cities metro area to promote the university.


Margaret Olatunbosun

Late night coffees, and the sleep schedule of the president will be the only things Margaret Olatunbosun looks forward to giving up after graduation.

Margaret Olatunbosun
Margaret Olatunbosun

“The entry-level masters of science in nursing program at Metropolitan State University offered me just what I needed: a holistic approach to care for individuals, families, and the public. It is competitive and challenging but the cohort model provides one just the right amount of support and push to be creative in order to deliver excellent care.”

Olatunbosun was the president of the Nursing Student Organization during her time at Metropolitan State University. She juggled these obligations along with a full course load while working full-time for a busy medical-surgical unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

For Olatunbosun, graduation is “an accomplishment; a pat on the back for a job well done. “ It’s the product of three years only sleeping four and a half hours per night. For her parents and her two siblings, Margaret’s graduation from her master’s program is a proud moment, as she comes from a family of educators. “During one of our conversations about nursing school, my mom proudly said, ‘now your masters is done, next is your DNP, or your PhD.’ I couldn’t hide my horror at the thought of more schooling but I know she means the best for me!”

As president of the Nursing Student Organization, Olatunbosun received a lot of leadership experience: “It’s been fun and challenging to learn strategies to inspire others to be their best selves, rather than managing them. I had to learn to adjust my schedule to accommodate others, to adjust my expectations, and prepare for uncertainties.” She also speaks highly of the other students in the program, saying “I had a lot fun getting to know my colleagues and their previous backgrounds.”

Olatunbosun’s college experience didn’t come without challenges. Her most trying time came when her mother needed to have surgery, and Olatunbosun stepped in to care for her, on top of her other responsibilities.

“I thought I was going to flunk out of school but my professors and colleagues rallied around me. I credit my presence today to their persistence and guidance,” Olatunbosun said.

argaret also stresses the importance of self-care, no matter how busy your schedule.

With her master’s degree under her belt, Margaret will position herself on the frontlines of the competitive healthcare-delivery field.


Sarah Hammad

Ten years ago, Sarah Hammad came to the United States from Jordan. Her father traveled to America ahead of her and most of her relatives, to secure a future for their family. Now, a decade later, Hammad is the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Sarah Hammad
Sarah Hammad

Hammad was already underway in her post-secondary studies at Winona State University, when, by chance, she drove by the Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul Campus. She decided to look into Metropolitan State, and soon found herself on the path to her bachelor’s degree in chemistry.  Two years later, Hammad has completed her degree with “outstanding graduate” status.

She faced a number challenges. Besides working two jobs, Hammad has made herself available to her family, helping out wherever she can. She also took on a heavy course-load, “I had one semester where I had three science courses, with labs. That was a heavy load that proved to be challenging.”

Along with working at the Macy’s fragrance and makeup counter, Hammad also works for the Institute of Community Engagement and Scholarships at Metropolitan State.

“I coordinate the First Saturday Science Program, where I bring science majors to come and do hands-on experiments with children five years and older. We cover a lot of different topics, and we try to show the kids that science is not intimidating, but fun!”

When Hammad is not working or studying, she follows fashion, and makeup trends. She enjoys acting as a makeup artist for her friends, and family. Hammad took zumba class at Metropolitan State University to satisfy a physical education credit. That class snow-balled into a new passion for Hammond, who has registered for  courses to now become an instructor herself. “I hope a lot of my free time will be spent teaching zumba.

With her bachelor’s degree under her belt, Hammad plans to continue her education. She hopes to work as a pharmacy technician, while she finds the pharmacy program that is a good fit for her.

“I still don’t have exact plans, but I am looking into applying to pharmacy schools in my home country, Jordan. If that doesn’t work out, I am looking at the University of Minnesota, as well as Washington State.


Angelique Homan

College of Community Studies and Public Affairs student Angelique Homan maintains a 3.9 grade point average while working three jobs, attending school full-time, and acting as an advisor/advocate for her mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Homan successfully manages these responsibilities while volunteering in her community. Homan is graduating with her degree in criminal justice.

Angelique Homan
Angelique Homan

After working as a veterinary technician for 12 years, Angelique decided to move towards full-time pursuit off another passion of hers: law enforcement. Currently, Homan serves as a reserve officer for Rosemount Police Department, and very recently interviewed with the FBI in New York City.

For Homan, graduation is one big step closer to achieving her ultimate goal, which is working in federal law enforcement. “It’s huge. I’m done, dude!”

Homan said about graduating: “With this degree, I am eligible for more things in my field.” Her family has been there the whole way, and for that, Angelique is very grateful. “I did not do it alone, and would love to express my thanks and love to everyone who was behind me: God, my family, friends, faculty, staff, classmates, and of course, my cat Marley, and horse Chance.”

Community service is also close to Homan’s heart. She currently serves as assistant instructor, and teaches the women’s self-defense seminar at The Warrior’s Cove. She also volunteers at Majestic Hills, a therapeutic riding ranch for disabled veterans, and handicapped children.

Perhaps her most important role, is that of advocate for her mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Homan sorts through the paperwork, deals with the county, the state, PCA’s, and steps in to make sure her mother is receiving the best care possible.

After graduation, Homan plans to continue on to a master’s program, where she will earn a degree in teaching, allowing her to work after retiring from law enforcement.

Formed in 2016, the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs (CCSPA) houses the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, and the departments of Human Services, Psychology, Social Work, and Public and Nonprofit Leadership. Rooted in both the practices and ideals of human worth, public service, and community engagement, CCSPA ultimately seeks to create inter-professional paths of learning and educational approaches that explore how to meet the evolving needs of individuals and communities, especially within diverse metropolitan urban areas like the Twin Cities.


Moises Delatorre

From high school dropout to exemplary student, Moises Delatorre truly is an outstanding graduate. Delatorre maintained a 3.92 grade point average, served in the community and in the military. Delatorre is graduating with bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Moises Delatorre
Moises Delatorre

After touring several colleges, Delatorre found himself intrigued by the School of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University.

“I looked at other schools and thought they were too mainstream. I want to look at something that I’ve been a part of, and I can give back to. There was a program designed for educators of color, with the goal of closing the achievement gap, and I thought that was pretty awesome.”

For Delatorre, graduating college is not just a milestone for him, but for his family as well. “I’m the first generation in the United States, and the first one to graduate from college in my family, so it means a lot to them.”

When he’s not working on his academic pursuits, Moises serves his country as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, where he has received numerous medals and ribbons for his service.

“Being in college and being a sergeant at the time; dealing with Army life, and my own life at the same,” he said.

He serves his community by working as a Spanish interpreter at various school events, such as open houses and parent-teacher conferences. Delatorre also assists teachers in providing academic support for students with physical and mental disabilities.

Post-graduation, he will work for Bloomington Public Schools in the Education Equity Department. As a former season ticket holder, Delatorre enjoys going to football games, target shooting at the range, ice fishing, and spending time with his two kids and the rest of his family.

Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education is designed to meet the need of urban schools for diverse teachers who can improve students’ educational achievement. The School of Urban Education prepares prospective teachers who can build on the talents and resiliency of diverse urban learners for success in school and life. Our approach to teacher education focuses on preparing reflective and resilient teachers who are outstanding in their commitment to teaching urban youth and providing equal educational opportunity. By attracting teachers of color and low-income or ‘first generation’ college students into teaching careers, the School of Urban Education provides urban schools with competent educators who can relate to the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse youth and their communities.

Katherine Brennan

Katherine Brennan, outstanding graduate student for the College of Management, has experienced Metropolitan State’s educational offerings from every angle in achieving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The married Minneapolis resident and new mother of one went from taking some of her classes “in the classroom setting and thoroughly enjoying the great campus on offer,” to doing her graduate work “exclusively online as it allowed me flexibility in managing my career, education and home life.”

Katherine Brennan
Katherine Brennan

Brennan has steadfastly pursued her dreams of a career in management through Metropolitan State’s programs, working as an assistant manager at Tiffany & Company, an investigator at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and now court operations supervisor in the Fourth Judicial District.

Brennan’s completion of the graduate program provides more time to devote to her family; she cites the great support she received from her husband, grandmother, parents and sister as she pursued her goals as being key to her academic success. The extra time will come in handy with her infant son, her love of cooking and her community service as a volunteer at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church and School in Minneapolis.


Nichole LaPoint

Minneapolis resident Nicole LaPoint, outstanding student in the College of Individualized Studies, worked throughout her time at Metropolitan State to interweave her intense interest in community and culture with a wide-ranging educational background.

Nicole LaPoint
Nicole LaPoint

The daughter of a ’99 Metropolitan State grad, LaPoint had long resisted her mother’s advice to give the school a try. When she finally came around, attracted by the university’s individualized study program, her mother “didn’t even bat an eye or say ‘I told you so,’ she just said ‘yes, do it.’” With her background in multiple schools and a desire to test out different ideas, she was drawn by Metropolitan State’s accommodating approach to prior learning. “The Individualized Studies program allowed me to pull in more than 100 credits, allowing me to begin creating a focus that encompassed everything I’d done so far while incorporating new learning at Metro State.” Her inclusive educational path led LaPoint to volunteer work and participation in community events while at Metropolitan State, such as the White Space Poetry Project, where she cocreated events that were accessible to the deaf and disabled community.

Having achieved her degree, LaPoint plans to continue pursuing ways to meld diverse cultural experience and community, hoping to serve in the Peace Corps and potentially moving on to an international graduate program.


Gina Nelson

Gina Nelson of Farmington graduated summa cum laude with double majors in Creative Writing and Studio Arts. She was chosen as an outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Liberal Arts and School of Communication, Writing, and the Arts. Nelson was a technical writer for 15 years before becoming a full-time student at Metropolitan State.

Gina Nelson
Gina Nelson

At Metropolitan State, Nelson’s pursuit of academic excellence was noted by her instructors and fellow students. Nelson’s instructor in advanced writing, Alison McGhee, praised her various class projects. Through these assignments, Nelson was able to apply her skills and passion in a digital storytelling project where she shared a personal accomplishment. Nelson also showcased a series of her photographs at the Gordon Parks Gallery that is located on the university’s Saint Paul Campus.

With her completion of two majors, Nelson is among the first to graduate with a Studio Arts degree from the university.

She is also an active leader at her church where she leads groups that include women, young girls, and children. In this role, she found herself teaching, mentoring and organizing activities for the past 19 years.


Rachel Primus

Rachel Primus of Apple Valley graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Health, Community and Professional Studies.

Rachel Primus
Rachel Primus

Primus is active in her community. She volunteered at Whittier Clinic educating pregnant mothers and children on dental healthcare. She also participated in volunteer opportunities at Normandale College such as Give Kids a Smile, Metro Dentalcare and Oral Cancer Walk.

Primus was class officer for her dental hygiene class of 18 students. She received high honors at Normandale. She hopes to help out in clinical education and help dental hygiene students in the manner that she was helped by faculty.