Two Women Leaders Speak at Commencement

By Teresa Castle

As Saint Mary's capped its yearlong observance of the 40th anniversary of the entrance of women to the College, two high-profile women leaders addressed commencement ceremonies on May 21 and 22.

Sherie Swiess Dodsworth '78, CEO of Securita, Inc., spoke at the 148th Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 21 and encouraged the graduates to aim high. "Believe in yourself," she advised. "You are a member of a community that welcomes involvement and leadership, celebrates accomplishments, embraces new ideas and change, and encourages you to pursue your passions."

Sherie Swiess Dodsworth '78

Dodsworth, who has served in a variety of senior financial roles, was the first alumna on Saint Mary's Board of Regents, the first female president of the Alumni Association and the first Alumna of the Year. More than 530 undergraduate students received diplomas. After the ceremony, guests and graduates spread out across campus to honor a longstanding tradition at Saint Mary's: the festive party on the lawn. Among the partiers was Stephanie Milz, an enthusiastic business major who will be joining Insight Global as a recruiter in June. "This is the best day at Saint Mary's because you're here with your family and friends," she said.

Sunne Wright McPeak

The next day, 395 students received diplomas in the first combined Graduate and Professional Programs Commencement. Brother President Ronald Gallagher, FSC, praised the students as "the embodiment of multitasking" for the way they had navigated a rigorous curriculum while maintaining full-time careers and managing the needs of their families.

Sunne Wright McPeak, president of the California emerging Technology Fund, told the graduates: "Know that each person counts and that one person always can make a difference." She recalled how that adage held true when she won her first election to the Contra Costa county Board of Supervisors by just two votes. She went on to serve as secretary of the california Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and as president of the Bay area Council, Bay Area Economic forum and California state Association of Counties.

Students received degrees from the Graduate Business programs, the Kalmanovitz school of Education, the M.A. in Leadership, MFA in Creative writing, M.A. in Kinesiology, the Liberal Education for Arts professionals (LE AP) program, and the new B.A. in Leadership and Organizational Studies program, a hybrid online program for working adults launched in 2009. juanita Eberhart, one of the program's first graduates, was thrilled to finally hold her diploma. "Initially, I came just to get a piece of paper, but I got so much more than what I bargained for," she said. "Ninety percent of what I learned, I'm already applying.