2015 Marylhurst University commencement ceremony

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Two Marylhurst graduates making an impact on prison populations

More than 460 bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates will be honored at Marylhurst University’s 121st commencement, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 20 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Each one will make his or her mark on the community, whether through business ventures, creative endeavors – artists, musicians and authors – or addressing issues of social justice.

Two Marylhurst graduates, Brandon Hoggans and Rebekah Mende, will launch efforts to improve our prison system, though from very different perspectives.

Brandon Hoggans, a psychology major, is applying to graduate programs in social work and to five-year doctoral programs in psychology. His purpose, he says, is to expand on the philosophies and goals of the agency his father founded before he passed away: that is, to establish a foundation specializing in counseling, creating and implementing re-entry programs for the growing population of men and women exiting prison and attempting to become productive members of society. Hoggans’ passion and purpose stem from his personal experience. At 18, he was sentenced on a robbery charge, serving seven years in prison. He found that as a young man with a felony not only did he lack experience and skills to successfully turn his life around, society had several obstacles that made re-entry even more challenging. It was then that he became determined to create some of the lacking services for this population. He knew the importance of higher education -- so he completed his associate’s degree at Portland Community College, and now a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Marylhurst. “I wake up each day to obstacles I have to overcome because of decisions I’ve made in my past,” Hoggans said. “If my story, my experience, my service and my education can help create productive members of society, then I have achieved my goal.”

Rebekah Mende is graduating with a Master of Science in Food Systems & Society. Her thesis, Food Justice and Prison Food Systems: Exploring the Potential for Reframing Prison Food from Punitive to Restorative, looked at the prison food system as a mechanism of power, exploring the connection between slavery and incarceration, as well as the potential benefits of improving the system. She writes: “Prison food systems reform has the potential to increase public health rates, decrease recidivism and empower a powerless community.” When asked why she chose to focus on the prison food system, Mende has a simple answer: “In issues of food justice, there are a lot of holes in the dam. I chose to put my finger in this one.”

To download a complete list of 2015 Marylhurst University degree candidates, visit marylhurst.edu/2015candidates.

WHAT:     Marylhurst University’s 2015 Commencement

WHEN:    Saturday, June 20
                10:00 a.m.

WHERE:    Oregon Convention Center
                Portland Ballroom

Marylhurst University, a private liberal arts university 10 miles south of Portland, Ore., on Highway 43, is regionally accredited and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence in serving adult learners. Founded in 1893, Oregon's oldest Catholic university serves more than 1,200 multigenerational students of all faiths and backgrounds. Marylhurst offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certificate programs on campus and online, all of which integrate the liberal arts with professional studies and prepare graduates to be ethical leaders who think critically and creatively.

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Simona Boucek

Karen Pederson
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