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Jacksonville University celebrates largest graduating class in school history

The Class of 2019 has made history. With 1,243 total graduates — including 723 undergraduate and 520 graduate students — they are the largest class to ever flip their tassels at Jacksonville University (JU).

Continuing the new tradition of holding separate commencement ceremonies for Baccalaureate and Graduate students, JU welcomed family, friends and alumni to campus the final week of April to celebrate the graduates and proudly send them off on their next adventure.

Recently retired Baptist Health CEO and President Hugh Greene, who served as keynote speaker for the Graduate ceremony, encouraged the class to focus on the journey ahead, not the destination.

“I look back on my life and career and can declare without any hesitancy that mine has been a wonderful journey and, yes, adventure,” Greene said. “The journey is not about the destination. It is ongoing and continuous.”

Greene summarized his advice for the graduates in four words: “Live fully the journey.”

For undergraduates, keynote speaker and Elon University President Emeritus Dr. Leo Lambert emphasized the importance of mentors and the power they have to shape future success in the lives of others. Dr. Lambert is currently co-writing a book about placing meaningful mentoring relationships at the heart of undergraduate education (Johns Hopkins University Press).

“Mentors matter, both in college and in life,” said Dr. Lambert, adding that mentoring relationships can be both long-term and short-term, and each are powerful in their own ways. “I hope you will pursue many mentoring conversations — impactful, one-time talks that are easy, straightforward opportunities to tap into the expertise, knowledge and experience of people who will be delighted to share their story with you, if only you will ask.”

The hundreds of graduates from the Class of 2019 now join more than 36,000 JU alumni dating back to the 1930s. They come from all over the U.S. and from 17 countries — everywhere from the Bahamas to Zambia. They also survived two hurricanes that impacted Jacksonville during their college careers — Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma.

With an ever-growing freshman class taking shape, it’s likely the Class of 2019 won’t  be the largest graduating class in JU history for very long. But they would surely welcome a new record holder as a sign of the strong legacy they helped build.