commencement speaker on stage

Commencement Speakers 2023

Graduation is near, Tommies! Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for May 20 and 21. Meet the following outstanding students who will represent their peers as commencement speakers before they walk across the stage and begin their next chapters.

Speakers are listed chronologically by ceremony.

Rachael Binstock headshot

May 20 at 9 a.m. - Opus College of Business

Rachael Binstock ’23

Binstock is earning her degree in Business Leadership and Management, with minors in Economics and Sustainability. After graduation, she will be traveling and studying in and out of the country until starting work in the fall with Target as an Operation Chain Supply Manager. "We must remember that joy is not a fleeting emotion but a state of being we can cultivate and nourish,” she said. “Reminding ourselves that no matter what challenges we may face, we always have the power to choose it."

adali flores mendoza headshot

May 20 at 12:30pm - College of Arts and Sciences

Adali Flores-Mendoza ’23

Adali Flores-Mendoza is a triple major in communication studies, english-professional writing, and spanish. After graduation, she will be pursusing a job in social media and in the future return to higher education for a masters and PhD. "Our stories weren't written just by us, they were written with the help of families, friends, peers, faculty and staff. As a child of Mexican immigrants, St.Thomas has given me a college experience younger me did not think was possible,” she said. “I will be forever grateful for my time here.”

austin northagen headshot

May 20 at 1 p.m. - School of Law

Austin Northagen ’23 J.D.

Upon earning his juris doctor degree, Northagen will start his career practicing municipal law in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has the utmost admiration for his classmates who persevered through law school during a once-in-a-century panademic. “We started law school in unprecedent times, but I'm proud of the strong community and lifelong friendships we built,” he said. “Law school isn't always easy, but my classmates made this journey a great one and I'm excited to see the incredible things they will do in the coming years.”

sarah wlazlo headshot

May 20 at 3:30 p.m. - Morrison Family College of Health, School of Education, School of Engineering

Sarah Wlazlo ’23

Wlazlo is finalizing her degree in Communication Arts and Literature, English with a focus in Education. After graduation, she will be pursusing law school at the University of Minnesota Law. "Change is inevitable, be its friend rather than its enemy," she said. 

ayoko agbobly headshot

May 21 at 9:30 a.m. – Dougherty Family College

Ayoko (Koko) Agbobly ’23 AA

Ayoko (Koko) Agbobly will earn her associate’s degree from Dougherty Family College (DFC), and she will continue this fall at St. Thomas working toward a bachelor’s degree in exercise science with the goal of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. "Going into college, one of my concerns was that I wasn't going to feel like I belonged, but DFC put those worries to rest,” she said. “DFC embodies what it means to be a community, looking out for and uplifting one another to reach one's full potential, inside and outside the classroom.”

mark bergeron headshot

May 21 at 12:30pm – Opus College of Business, College of Arts & Sciences, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity

Mark Bergeron MD, MPH, '23 MBA

Bergeron is completing his Master's of Business Administration through the Health Care Program. He will continue in his role as Medical Director of Digital Health Transformation as well as his full-time practice in neonatal-perinatal medicine, both at Children's Hospital. "This has been an incredible journey for me as a life-long learner. I'm well practiced in the art of healing one tiny patient at a time. Through the HCMBA program, I've been equipped with the tools necessary to take on some of the toughest challenges in our healthcare system."

david lemon headshot

May 21 at 3:30 p.m. – Morrison Family College of Health, School of Education, School of Engineering

David Lemon, '23 Ed.D.

David has completed his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Learning. His dissertation, The Sum is Greater That it's Parts: An Autoethnographic Study of Multiracial Men in Higher Education Staff Roles, was approved with honors. After over a decade in a variety of staff and adjunct roles at the University of St. Thomas, he has moved into a new role as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coach within the health equity department at Hennepin Healthcare. “The doctoral journey, including the classroom and cohort community, instilled a sense of justice that pushes me to continually question the systems I operate within and reflect on how I can be a positive agent for change," he said.