Photo/Video Advisory: Marquette graduate recognition ceremonies are May 23

May 18, 2021

CommencementMILWAUKEE — Marquette University will recognize its 140th graduating class with undergraduate and graduate recognition ceremonies Sunday, May 23, at American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Undergraduates will be recognized in a ceremony at 9 a.m., and some graduate and professional studies graduates will participate in an event at 5 p.m.

Academy Award winner John Ridley will serve as Commencement speaker via video remarks in a special recorded Virtual Commencement event that is part of the university’s full slate of Commencement Weekend activities. The video will be released on Marquette’s Commencement webpage on Saturday, May 22. Ridley, who will not be delivering an in-person address, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree in absentia.

Olivia Ward of the College of Nursing will be this year’s student speaker for the undergraduate recognition ceremony. Charles Twohy of Marquette Law School will address fellow graduates at the ceremony for the graduate school and professional studies programs.

Photographers are welcome to capture b-roll and still images freely in an unobtrusive manner.

The following graduates are available for interviews this week. It may be easier to find time with them during the week instead of on Sunday. Contact Marquette's Office of Marketing and Communication to arrange a day and time:

Citlali Vazquez Aviles. Citlali is graduating from the Direct Entry Nursing program after overcoming an adventurous personal journey through the COVID-19 pandemic. During the nursing program, she got engaged, married and became pregnant. Then, when Marquette transitioned to remote learning last spring, she returned home to California while in the third trimester and contracted COVID-19. She gave birth to her daughter last June, before her father also contracted the virus and had to spend time on a ventilator. Through a miracle, he was able to be discharged from the hospital after three weeks and she then cared for her father at home. This is the tip of the iceberg for Citali’s experience of hardship and determination which leads to Commencement this weekend. (Citlali will be participating the 5 p.m. ceremony)

José Gonzalez. José is a first-generation college graduate who will be earning his degree from the Marquette School of Dentistry this week. A Milwaukee native and the son of Mexican immigrants, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Marquette and returned for dental school after earning his master’s degree in oral biology from New York University. Jesuit educated for much of his life, he sought a career serving his community and found his calling in dentistry. (The School of Dentistry Commencement ceremony is Friday, May 21)

Mallory Wiest. Mallory nearly lost her life in a traumatic car crash before her career at Marquette even started, but this weekend will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. In the wreck, she suffered a broken femur and pelvis, shattered facial bones, and other trauma. After three and a half months of physical, speech and occupational therapy, she took her first steps. Since the accident, Mallory has organized blood drives and done volunteer work with Children’s Wisconsin to give back to the resources that saved her life. (Mallory will be participating the 9 a.m. ceremony)

OpenGov. Silicon Valley software company OpenGov is a leader in modern cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for cities, counties and state agencies and has expanded its operations to include Milwaukee in 2020. The company’s local branch has been open since April and 11 Marquette graduates have been hired at the company. Two graduating hires and OpenGov president David Reeves are available for interviews. (Available students will be participating the 9 a.m. ceremony)

For assistance during Commencement Weekend, please contact either of the following:

  • Kevin Conway, associate director of university communication
    • (414) 202-9329 – mobile
  • Shelby Williamson, senior communication specialist
    • (262) 441-0516 – mobile

About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the associate director for university communication in the Office of University Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or