When Belinda Sanchez started working on her English degree at St. Mary’s University in 1999, she intended to quickly finish the degree she had started at a community college. But the obligations of being a single mother and the lure of a well-paying job took her away from her dream of being a college graduate, at least for a while.

On Dec. 15, Sanchez, now the mother of a 10-year-old and a 16-month-old, completed the dream when she walked across the stage in Bill Greehey Arena during the St. Mary’s fall commencement exercises. Before this milestone was even complete, Sanchez was already looking ahead. “I’m looking at master’s programs, something to enhance my degree,” she said.

St. Mary’s held commencement exercises for a total of 318 graduate and undergraduate students on Saturday, Dec. 15. The ceremony included students who completed their degree work in both the summer and fall sessions. A total of 158 students received a bachelor’s degree, and 160 received either a master’s or doctorate degree.

The keynote speaker is Mary Civille (Sue) Wesselkamper, Ph.D., president of Chaminade University of Honolulu. She is the first woman to ever preside over a university in Hawaii, and the first to head a Marianist university.

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