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UC Commencement Message: Dreams Can Become a Reality

UC alumna and Olympic gold medalist Mary Wineberg greets UC’s newest alumni at December Commencement.

Date: 12/13/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

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“Welcome to the 189th Commencement of the University of Cincinnati!”

President Zimpher

UC President Nancy L. Zimpher welcomed graduates and guests on a chilly Saturday morning in Fifth Third Arena on Dec. 13.

President Zimpher told the crowd that the university had many highlights to celebrate this year, including an enrollment of more than 37,000 students (the highest number of students in 18 years), the opening of a new gateway to the health campus – the Center for Academic and Research Excellence (CARE)/Crawley Building – the kickoff of UC’s billion-dollar fundraising campaign, the largest in university history, and a spectacular football season that’s taking the Bearcats to the Orange Bowl.

“But today tops all of that with our UC Class of 2008 gathered here before us,” Zimpher said. She told the graduates they were joining a group comprised of more than 200,000 living alumni, including JCPenney CEO Mike Ullman III, Broadway star Faith Prince and opera singer Kathleen Battle.

Mary Wineberg
Mary Wineberg

UC alumna and UC Award for Excellence recipient Mary Wineberg, the 2008 Olympic 4x400-meter relay gold medalist, shared her memories of UC as she delivered the Commencement address. She remarked on the transformation of the campus since she graduated in 2002, and said that at that time, UC was often known to stand for “under construction.”

“But there was a vision of how great this campus could be and make it even more appealing to all who would attend, as you are able to see now,” she said.

She recalled making many friends and finding many mentors, including coaches, advisors, “the ladies in the dining hall, and of course, my favorite professors who made the lessons so much more interesting through their different ways of teaching.”

Wineberg said she understood what it was like to look ahead toward big goals. She encouraged the graduates to conquer fears that can sometimes interfere with achieving those goals.

“I want you all to envision your lives and professions five years from now and really push yourselves to be the best that you can be,” Wineberg said. “Set your goals! No one, including myself, would have ever thought I would be an Olympic gold medalist.  For four straight years after graduating from college, I wasn’t even seen as an elite athlete. Imagine if I would have quit.

“Graduates, you have the backbone in place, but now just trust in your education and go into the real world and know that you can succeed,” she said.


Immediately following the ceremony, the graduates could attend a reception at the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center that was hosted by the UC Alumni Association. As graduates departed Fifth Third Arena, they were tossed dozens of beach balls to celebrate UC’s trip to the Orange Bowl.