UIC celebrates fall commencement Dec. 10

More than 1,900 University of Illinois Chicago undergraduate students and 1,300 graduate students will be celebrated during fall 2022 commencement ceremonies Dec. 10.

About 800 graduate students are expected to attend the graduate ceremonies, which will be held at 9 a.m. at Credit Union 1 Arena, 525 S. Racine Ave.

About 1,400 of the eligible undergraduate students are expected to attend the undergraduate ceremony, which will be held at 2 p.m. at the same location.

Erika Allen will be the keynote speaker for the 2022 graduation
Erika Allen will be the keynote speaker for the 2022 graduate ceremony, where she will receive an honorary degree. Photo by Tonika Johnson.

The ceremonies are for summer and fall 2022 graduates from the colleges of Applied Health Sciences; Architecture, Design, and the Arts, Business Administration; Education; Engineering; Liberal Arts and Sciences; Nursing; and Urban Planning and Public Affairs; as well as the schools of Public Health and Law.

Graduate students will have the opportunity to hear from Erika Allen, who will also receive an honorary degree for dedicating her professional career to public service, developing sustainable community food systems and advocating for just and environmentally friendly food policies.

Allen is the co-founder and CEO of strategic development and programs for Urban Growers Collective, president of Green ERA Educational NFP and co-owner of Green Era Sustainability Partners.

She was appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to a three-year term to the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education and was recently appointed by the Biden Administration to join the Farm Service Agency Committee for Illinois. Additionally, Allen serves as co-chair of the Food Equity Council for Chicago.

Allen was awarded the 2022 James Beard Leadership award in June. The award spotlights the important and complex realms of sustainability, food justice and public health, and raises awareness of these timely issues by celebrating the visionaries responsible for creating a healthier, safer and more equitable and sustainable food system.

She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her Master of Arts degree in art psychotherapy from UIC. She uses her experience as a visual artist to consult with individuals and organizations to support their visioning of social and economic changes. She is passionate about social justice and working with multicultural groups in the elimination of racism, oppression and the root causes of poverty by integrating creative and therapeutic techniques alongside food security and community development.

Antonio Romanucci will be the keynote speaker for the 2022 under
Antonio M. Romanucci will be the keynote speaker for the 2022 undergraduate ceremony. Photo provided.

The commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony will be Antonio M. Romanucci, a national civil rights and personal injury attorney and co-founding partner of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. Romanucci is a graduate of the former The John Marshall Law School, which was acquired by the university in 2019 and renamed the UIC School of Law.

Starting as a Cook County public defender, he has progressed to being one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the country. He was named the No. 1 civil rights lawyer in 2022 by Leading Lawyers and was selected as Chicago Lawyer magazine’s 2021 Person of the Year. Additionally, he was recently recognized by Chicago Magazine on their ‘New Power 30’ list for his many contributions to the Chicago community. 

Romanucci is considered the “architect” of the historic civil rights lawsuit and settlement against the City of Minneapolis while co-representing the estate of George Floyd. His national presence is on behalf of many who have suffered due to corporate or individual negligence and his cases include those who lost loved ones on a Boeing 737 Max aircraft, those who were made sick by ethylene oxide emissions in Willowbrook, Illinois, and victims of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Las Vegas and Highland Park, Illinois.

He is active in a number of professional associations, such as the American Association for Justice, as well as civic and charitable organizations for children, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he was honorary chair of the annual fundraising gala in Chicago in 2020.

Romanucci works to educate the next generation by sharing his experiences as an attorney advocating for plaintiffs and for civil justice in and out of the courtroom. He shares this message as he speaks on college campuses, to fellow lawyers, bar associations and community groups. Romanucci has been a guest lecturer to students at the UIC School of Law as well as a speaker at other UIC events, including the University’s Minority Health Conference titled “Bridging the Gap” in Fall 2022.

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