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Two Roosevelt University students will speak at May 2 graduation

Posted: 04/28/2014

Two Roosevelt University students who will be graduating on Friday, May 2 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago have been selected to address fellow graduates as part of the University’s Spring 2014 Commencement ceremonies.

Brenden Paradies of Brownsburg, Ind., who will receive a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, will reflect on his experiences as a Roosevelt student at the University’s 10 a.m. Commencement. An estimated 400 of his classmates from the College of Arts and Sciences and Chicago College of Performing Arts are expected to attend.

JoannaRJoanna Rivera of Itasca, Ill., who will receive a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, will speak at the University’s 2 p.m. graduation ceremony.  About 400 of her classmates from the College of Education, Heller College of Business and Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies are expected to be on hand.

The two were among 10 nominees and were selected for the honor based on essays and interviews they gave regarding their Roosevelt experiences.

“I am more than blessed with the growth, friends, self-confidence, knowledge and passion for social justice issues I have gained during my time at Roosevelt,” wrote Paradies, who is credited for helping the University to establish gender inclusive housing on campus.  A resident assistant at the University’s Wabash Building, Paradies also started the Colleges Against Cancer student organization and helped organize ally training on campus.

“My work with the Jumpstart program and the Educational Talent Search program at Roosevelt University showed me how everyday people like me can bring about change and equity to low-income students who are behind in reading, literacy skills and who do not have the finances to visit cultural centers or even college campuses,” wrote Rivera, who will be the first in her family to graduate from Roosevelt.

Paradies is an honors student and recipient of the Mittie, Moselynne and Dempsey J. Travis Scholarship.  He did his senior thesis on the city of Chicago’s new bike-share program, concluding that the bikes are neither affordable nor accessible for residents in Chicago’s south and west-wide communities.  A Burnham scholarship winner, Paradies will be pursuing a Master of Urban Planning and Policy degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall.

As an elementary education student, Rivera has had many experiences working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the city of Chicago.  She recently completed her student teaching in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and hopes to continue after graduation working in neighborhoods of high need.  She also plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology as she continues working in school settings.