Congratulations, Class of 2013!

More than 1,000 students from the class of 2013 earned their undergraduate or graduate degree from Bradley University this week.

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By Frank Radosevich II
May 18, 2013

For the Bradley 2013 graduates who thought their days of learning were over, serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman has some news for them — they’re just beginning.

“It is the start of your education today,” said Hoffman, a founding team member and former CEO of Priceline.com who has launched multiple startups. “What you learned at Bradley was how to learn. … You learned critical thinking, you learned structural thinking.”

Hoffman gave the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony that saw more than 900 students receive bachelor’s degrees as friends, families and loved ones applauded their accomplishment. Before speaking to the graduates, Hoffman was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

During his speech, Hoffman urged students to chart their own path in life by working on what makes them happy not on what makes them rich. He talked about mentoring a Bradley student who changed his career plans from engineering to follow his dream of traveling and cooking. Hoffman said students shouldn’t be afraid to strike out on their own like he did as an entrepreneur.

“Make career choices based upon your passions and your interests not what everyone else is telling you to do,” he said. “Parents, your goal is a happy, well adjusted child.”

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Undergraduate Ceremony

Graduate Ceremony

Before Hoffman’s speech, Bradley President Joanne Glasser told the graduates that instilling an entrepreneurial spirit is an integral part of Bradley’s academic mission, regardless of what discipline students study. In fact, University founder Lydia Moss Bradley herself was a trailblazer when she set out to establish her university.

“Mrs. Bradley was the quintessential entrepreneur,” Glasser said. “She was intelligent, resourceful, forward looking and, above all else, kind.”

Graduates of the class of 2013 came from far and wide to attend Bradley. Ovid Williams, from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, who graduated with a music education degree, said he wasn’t thrilled at first with studying in Peoria but grew to love his classrooms and performances in Central Illinois.

“All the teachers really care here,” he said. “Because of that, I’m going to miss them and all my friends the most.”

Although most of the graduates will leave Bradley to launch their careers or continue their academic pursuits, some will gladly return to campus. Sadie Salsman graduated with a degree in health sciences and decided to earn her doctorate in physical therapy on the Hilltop. She said the decision to stay was an easy one.

“I’ve developed a community of support here. I know the professors and have a personal relationship with most of them already,” she said. “I really value the growth I’ve had through my Bradley experience. And that’s thanks to the faculty, staff, organizations and friends I’ve made here.”

Earlier in the week, Keith Steffen, president and CEO of OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, delivered the keynote address at the May 16 graduate commencement ceremony where some 200 students received their degrees.

Head of the fourth largest hospital in Illinois, Steffen also stressed to the graduates that “learning never stops” after receiving their degrees but added that their Bradley experience has equipped them to tackle new challenges.

“Don’t doubt for a minute that you’re well-positioned for stepping into new roles with far greater responsibility, far greater accountability and,” he said, “perhaps with some positions, far greater authority.”



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