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Blue Demons Get Ready For Graduation Weekend



CHICAGO - DePaul University student-athletes started their commencement weekend with a graduation luncheon that was hosted by DePaul's Director of Athletics, Jean Lenti Ponsetto on Friday afternoon.  The Blue Demon student-athletes enjoyed lunch, took photos in their cap and gowns and officially joined DePaul's Athletic Alumni D-Club.

"I will always remember this class for the way these student-athletes worked hard to distinguish themselves in the BIG EAST Conference and in the NCAA Tournament," Ponsetto said of the Class of 2010, who helped the Blue Demons to the NCAA Tournament in women's basketball, women's tennis, men's soccer, and men's and women's track and field; while the softball team reached the Women's College World Series and made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship.

Some of this year's class will hit the ground running in the working world armed with their DePaul diploma while others like women's track and field standout, Terah Cheatham will begin medical school in the fall.

"I am very proud to graduate from DePaul. I would not have chosen to go anywhere else," said Cheatham, who will graduate with a degree in Biology on Sunday. 

"The biology department is advancing and expanding. The faculty is excellent and the classes prepared me for the MCAT.  Without my education here, I could not reach my goal of becoming a doctor," Cheatham said in closing.

With DePaul's student-athletes dressed in academic regalia, they began to realize just what the DePaul University brand is worth.

"To graduate from DePaul is a huge accomplishment and to graduate with honors is even better because of DePaul's high academic standards," All-American softball player and California native Becca Heteniak said.

"To be a part of the large DePaul alumni network opens so many doors. There are DePaul alumni all over the country and in California, who were and are willing to help other DePaul alumni," Heteniak added.

"This weekend is a culmination of the last four years of my life," men's soccer student-athlete Mark Plotkin said.

"I am graduating with my brothers, teammates, and the best friends I could ask for," Plotkin added as he looked at fellow soccer seniors, Patrick Hopkins, Mike Williams, Nathan Feltz and Erich Reichmann.

"Being a student-athlete at DePaul is what hard work and dedication means.  Being a student-athlete is a full-time job and it speaks to our character -- both in the academic setting and in our athletic accomplishments." Plotkin added.

With both head and assistant coaches on hand to celebrate with the more than 20 graduates, head women's basketball coach Doug Bruno marveled at the class of 2010.

"Test scores are what you do in one day.  GPAs and graduation are what you work for everyday," Bruno said.

The 2010 class includes women's basketball's Deirdre Naughton and Rachel Pierson who have helped the Blue Demons to four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths while also having a top 25 women's basketball team GPA.

"These student-athletes have demonstrated they have the ability to do it everyday and now have to go out and work and serve others," Bruno added. 

"This class set the tone academically, athletically and with their countless hours of community service," Ponsetto said as the luncheon concluded. "These student-athletes truly embraced the university's Vincentian mission and values along with the high academic standards of the institution."

DePaul officially begins its commencement activities today with a Baccalaureate Mass which is scheduled for 4 p.m. at St. Vincent DePaul, located on the corner of Sheffield and Belden.  A Commencement Weekend Kickoff Party follows on the quad in Lincoln Park. 

On Saturday, students from the School of Education, Music and Theater and the School for New Learning will receive their diplomas; while College of Computing and Digital Media, College of Communication, College of Commerce and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences will celebrate their commencement activities on Sunday.