Roosevelt University graduate Mohammad Samra

Senior Mohammad Samra had pledged to skip his own graduation ceremony. Several weeks later, in his cap and gown, he found himself recording his address as the Roosevelt University student graduation speaker.  

As a journalism student, Samra has already written stories for a broad audience. In 2019, with professor John Fountain, he traveled to D.C. to report on an anti-gun violence rally. He also wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times remembering 51 murdered women.

For Samra, his graduation address was a chance to share something deeply personal. The Roosevelt journalism student wrote about his decision, and his change of heart, in the student newspaper.

“For most of my life, I’ve lacked a voice,” Samra said. “My speech will provide me a platform I’ve only seen in my dreams. It is my opportunity to represent everyone who stood by my side along my journey.”

Listen to Mohammad Samra on the And Justice For All podcast.

Samra was born and raised in Cicero, Illinois. More than his successes, the journalism major says, he wants his speech to honor the challenges he has faced and overcome.

“Though I’m grateful for my triumphs at Roosevelt, I’m just as grateful for every failure I’ve endured,” said the journalism graduate. “Through failing, I’ve learned how to appreciate success.”

Samra spent many nights up studying in his parents’ unfinished basement, then napping on the Metra stairs in between classes and his shifts at a United Parcel Service facility. As a college student, Samra has also dealt with loss: his younger brother in 2019 and his best friend, Fabian Ortega, in July 2020. 

He sees his Commencement address as an opportunity to be a role model for other students who are struggling with self-doubt or setbacks.

Samra plans to tell his classmates, “There’s no shame in weakness or failure. Embrace your mistakes because they will be the first steps in your triumphant journeys.”

Roosevelt University will host two virtual Commencement ceremonies on May 7, at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.


The Bachelor's in Journalism and Media Studies degree is a mix of hands-on professional courses and theoretical courses. Students in the journalism concentration study course work in online, broadcast and print journalism to prepare for work in today's multimedia news environment. Learn more.

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