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Nearly 400 Grads Set to Cross Stage at Bellevue University's 2023 Winter Commencement

Student Speaker Is Working Adult Learner in Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery; She Will Continue Work in Behavioral Science Field

On Saturday, Jan. 28,  nearly 400 Bellevue University students  are expected to cross the stage at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to receive their diplomas at the University’s winter commencement ceremony.

Among the graduates will be Holly Porter, student speaker, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science. Porter, who was born and raised in Fremont, Nebraska, currently works with people in group therapy and facilitates intensive outpatient programming for them. The topic of Porter's speech will be “We Are the Change.”

Porter is a working adult learner and a mother who is in long-term recovery from substance abuse. Her 7-year-old son will attend the ceremony to see and celebrate his mom's graduation. 

“The transformation that we power in students is remarkable,” said University President Mary Hawkins, “The students we serve best are those who, like Holly, have invested in themselves and are motivated to get to the next level.”

The commencement ceremony, which begins at 9:10 a.m. with the procession of graduates and the program starting at 9:30 a.m., will also feature Jeff Yost, President and CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation, as the winter commencement speaker. Yost has been instrumental in leading the NCF and guiding its evolution as an institution that uses philanthropy as a tool for rural community capacity building and economic development.

Fourteen students will also receive their doctoral degrees in a separate hooding ceremony held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, at the John B. Muller Administrative Services Building located on the campus of Bellevue University. 

According to University Registrar Colette Lewis, the University conferred 556 degrees from Oct. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022. This includes 378 undergraduate degrees, 173 master’s degrees and five doctoral degrees. Bellevue University now has more than 60,000 graduates worldwide.

The University will stream the commencement ceremony live so those who cannot attend have an opportunity to see students receive their diplomas. 

For more information about the winter commencement ceremony, visit,

About Bellevue University

Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a non-profit university with more than 60,000 graduates worldwide. The University is a recognized national leader in preparing students for lifelong success with career-relevant knowledge and skills, while making college affordable. Routinely ranked among the nation’s top military and accessible institutions, the University serves residential students at its main campus in Bellevue, Nebraska, and everywhere online with more than 80 degree programs uniquely designed for working adults. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (