Le Fer Hall

SMWC confers nearly 300 degrees

News | 05.12.2023

With the conclusion of two more commencement ceremonies, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) welcomed 283 graduates from the class of 2023 to join thousands of alumni on Saturday, May 13, during its 189th commencement.

“Today, we are celebrating the accomplishments of our students over two ceremonies with nearly 85 graduates present at each one and many watching from home through the live stream. Regardless of where you are or where your family members are, we are excited to recognize your graduation and completion of your journey at The Woods,” President Dottie L. King, Ph.D., said to graduates and spectators.

Commencement speakers were students selected from nominations by the student body and selected by a committee of faculty and staff. Nominees had a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater, among other criteria requirements.

Sydney McCammon, a psychology major, addressed her peers during the morning ceremony for campus undergraduates with words of wisdom and encouragement.

Sydney McCammon addressing her peers during the 10 a.m. ceremony

“SMWC has truly become a second home for me….I know changes and transition periods can be times of uncertainty, and I want us all to know that it’s ok if we’re unsure where our path will lead us. So, let’s take our time. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves for making mistakes; it’s inevitable and how we learn. You are hard-working and capable, and this degree is evidence of that,” McCammon said.

Luis Botello, who completed his degree in exercise science, shared that although he was skeptical about coming to The Woods his freshman year, he realized that he made the right choice. “Thinking about my experience at The Woods is bittersweet. I’m glad that we’re finally graduating. Although it’s sad that it’s coming to an end, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It really does feel like a family here,” Botello said.

In the afternoon ceremony, online and graduate students absorbed inspirational words from Rebecca Weimer, a Master of Arts in Art Therapy (MAAT) student.

Rebecca Weimer addressing her peers during the 3 p.m. ceremony

“Most of us began this journey in the midst of Covid. The fear of loss, the unknown and the future state of the world sat heavy on our shoulders as we attempted to navigate academia, endless Zoom meetings and internships in a continually shifting world. While our beginnings were rocky and confusing, we have arrived today as living proof of resilience and the power of hope,” Weimer said.

Jamie Shotts, a graduate of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, shared that The Woods truly made an impact on her. “I cannot say enough about SMWC and the MSN program. The instructors were absolutely some of the best nursing instructors I’ve ever had. They were so supportive and encouraging. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I am truly humbled by all the support and encouragement from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. I will forever give back for everything they’ve given me,” Shotts said.

Award winners were recognized during the ceremonies.

Maura Secrest received the Undergraduate Alumni Leadership and Service Award, recognizing a graduate who demonstrated outstanding leadership and service during their time at SMWC. Tammy Walker ’16 received the Graduate Alumni Leadership and Service Award.

The Maud Helm Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence is given to a graduate of the campus-based program and a graduate of the Woods Online program with the highest academic grade point average. The Rockwell Medals for Academic Excellence were awarded to Alexandra Joy Baver, Patricia Lee Henney and Sydney McCammon in the campus ceremony and to April Lynn Hale in the Woods Online ceremony.

A baccalaureate liturgy ceremony was held in The Church of Immaculate Conception on campus between both ceremonies. 

President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. with Maud Helm Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence winner, Alexandra Baver
President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. with Maud Helm Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence winner, Patricia Henney
President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. with Maud Helm Rockwell Medal for Academic Excellence winner, Sydney McCammon
President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. with Undergraduate Alumni Leadership and Service Award winner, Maura Secrest
President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. with Graduate Alumni Leadership and Service Award Tammy Walker ’16

photo galleries from the day

10 a.m. Commencement Photo Gallery

1 p.m. Baccalaureate Ceremony Photo Gallery

3 p.m. Commencement Photo Gallery