The University of Louisville’s winter commencement will be at 7 p.m. Dec.13 at the downtown KFC Yum! Center. Of the nearly 1,300 students estimated to be on track to graduate this semester, 850 plan to take part in the ceremony, according to preliminary figures.
UofL President Neeli Bendapudi will preside at the event, and Cynthia Schepers will be the student speaker.
Schepers, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance (exercise science track), is a resident of Family Scholar House, a program serving disadvantaged youth and single-parent families pursing postsecondary education. After entering the foster care system at 13 and attending five high schools before graduating from North Bullitt High School, the Louisville native became homeless at 21 before connecting with Family Scholar House.
Schepers cited a National Foster Youth Institute statistic that said nationwide fewer than 3 percent of former foster youth graduate from a four-year college.
“I have shown so much resiliency throughout my college journey. I have experienced so many hardships. Despite all of them, I was still dedicated to becoming a part of that 3 percent,” Schepers said. “I’m going to be one of those foster kids who graduate to show other foster kids it’s possible.”
The graduate’s goal is to become a personal trainer working to provide low-cost services to former foster youths.
“I would tell someone in my position to never give up. I think that you can do anything you put your mind to, and if that means getting resources and support from people, then that’s what you’ve got to do,” Schepers said. “There are so many people at UofL who just want to support you, so making sure that you’re taking advantage of that support that’s offered is crucial to succeeding.”
At commencement, graduating students and their guests should enter the center through the doors facing Main Street between Second and Third streets and allow extra time to go through security. All bags will be checked and should not be larger than 14-by-14 inches. Balloons are prohibited.
In addition to commencement at KFC Yum! Center, the UofL Graduate School will host a doctoral hooding and graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. on the same day. That ceremony will be on the Belknap Campus, Swain Student Activities Center Ballroom, Room W215.