Graduates in front of Pearce Auditorium
(AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau honors Women’s College, University graduates at spring commencement

May 11, 2022
Alyson Shields

Brenau University celebrated spring 2022 graduates Friday and Saturday at commencement ceremonies held on the historic Gainesville campus. Brenau awarded some 370 degrees during the spring semester for a total of about 775 for the 2021-22 academic year.

Brenau President Anne Skleder was the commencement speaker at both ceremonies. She highlighted some of the key points from the Brenau Ideal and mission statement, and urged graduates to continue living the Brenau Ideal every day.

“At Brenau, our mission has been to challenge you to lead extraordinary lives and to support you in that pursuit. You’ve made it. You’ve succeeded,” Skelder said. “You are truly gold refined by fire. And I am very confident that you can carry that strength and courage into the next chapters of your lives that are as yet unwritten.”   

Haley Bartoletta shares a story about vulnerability with her baby blanket as a prop during the 2022 spring commencement
Haley Bartoletta holds up her baby blanket while talking about vulnerability in her graduation speech during The Women’s College commencement ceremony (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Haley Bartoletta, WC ’22, received a bachelor of arts in mass communication, was a student athlete and the 2021-22 Baxter-Bryan Scholar. Baroletta, who spoke at Friday’s ceremony for 98 graduates of The Women’s College, called her Brenau experience life-changing. 

“If I had to define my Brenau experience, I would say it revolved around growth,” Bartoletta said. “Looking back, I have grown as an individual more than I ever thought possible and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without my coach and my professors who spent so much time investing in me as a person. My Brenau experience helped shape me into the person I am today.”

Bartoletta plans to dive head first into her career after graduation, working at a full-time job in the communications field.

“Brenau gave me the opportunity over the last four years to be in an environment I will likely never experience again,” Bartoletta said. “I learned in an environment where women were the leaders. Brenau has taught me my value as a woman in leadership and I am thankful for how that has prepared me for the future.”

The spring graduates included 25 students from Anhui Normal University in China, many of whom viewed the ceremonies via live stream. Kanjun “Lilac” Xu, BU ’22, spoke at Saturday’s graduation for university undergraduate and graduate students. Xu earned a bachelor of fine arts in interior design through a partnership between the two universities and studied at Brenau in person for the past year.

Xu said she was honored to speak at graduation, and was grateful to Skleder, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jim Eck, her professors, university staff and her classmates for helping her achieve her goals while at Brenau.

Gil Rodriguez and his wife after the university graduation
Gil Rodriguez and his wife after the university graduation. (Edie Rogers/Brenau University)

Maj. Gilberto “Gil” Rodriguez, BU ’22, received his MBA in Strategic Thinking & Innovation Saturday. Rodriguez is an active military member, serving over 15 years in the Army Medical Service Corps as a Chief of Operations. 

“The MBA program provided me with critical tools that enable me as the Chief of Operations in a strategic military organization while building two businesses,” Rodriguez said. 

He said while the program was demanding and required a lot of time and focus, he and his wife knew this was the path they wanted their family to take. They worked on their MBAs simultaneously and tested their knowledge by immediately working on business efforts as part of their retirement plan. Their goal is to transition from 20 years of active military service in 2027 to dedicate their lives full-time to their family.

“I don’t think I would have been fully prepared to tackle these endeavors successfully without Brenau’s MBA experience,” Rodriguez said.

Graduation ceremonies Friday were moved indoors to Pearce Auditorium due to inclement weather, while the ceremony Saturday was held outside on the Front Lawn. Both ceremonies were live streamed and can be viewed online.



See more 2022 spring commencement photos: The Women’s College | Undergraduate and Graduate