Academics People and Community

Graduate to address peers in commencement speech

Sydney Stropes, who will earn two degrees—nursing from the School of Nursing and Health Studies and religion and health care from the College of Arts and Sciences—was selected to address fellow undergraduates at the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony on Friday.
Sydney Stropes

Sydney Stropes was selected to address her nursing peers at the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony on Friday.

Growing up the daughter of a U.S. Air Force officer, Sydney Stropes said she “had the privilege of being stationed in locations around the world.” Attending the University of Miami only bolstered her global perspective. Here she studied emerging religions, researched sexual health education, explored her Cuban heritage, flew to Spain to learn about transcultural nursing, took up scuba diving, and more. 

Now Stropes, one of just three undergraduate students chosen to speak at the University’s Spring 2023 Commencement ceremonies, is graduating with dual bachelor’s degrees—nursing from the School of Nursing and Health Studies and religion and health care from the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“Getting to call myself a member of the 2023 nursing cohort has been one of the most amazing experiences,” said Stropes. “My peers have shown me how to work hard, have fun, and become the person you never thought you could be. They, alongside my professors, have been rocks these last few years.”

But academic excellence, not luck, earned Stropes a President’s Scholarship, plus spots on the President’s, Provost’s, and Dean’s lists. She stood out for her robust civic engagement at the University, as well. In the Office of Undergraduate Admission, she held responsible positions as lead administrative assistant and President’s 100 Student Ambassador Advisory Board member, tasked with promoting the University to prospective families worldwide. 

In addition, she was elected to Student Government as a senate officer, ultimately coauthoring a bill to give student employees a permanent senate seat so “their voices are heard,” she explained. 

As an active member of Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC), a nonprofit student organization providing support to the University’s Cuban population, Stropes explored her Cuban heritage on her mother’s side. She served as FEC’s treasurer and then president. In 2021, with major protests occurring in Cuba, Stropes and FEC rallied the University community to show solidarity. 

In an article in The Miami Hurricane, she expressed hope that Cubans would be granted basic human rights in the near future. “I think the road ahead is a long one and one that will not be easy for anyone, but I hope that there is a better tomorrow,” she said. “I want the Cuban people to live a life filled with happiness, comfort, and health.” 

The impressive way she conducted herself earned Stropes two major recognitions. She was tapped into the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor bestowed by the University, and inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. 

And soon, she will be off to her next ambitious adventure—as an emergency department nurse at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. But first Stropes will share some hard-earned wisdom with her peers. 

“My commencement speech is about slowing down and enjoying the little moments around you, because you never know which one might be your last,” she said. “One of my favorite moments to enjoy on campus was sitting on a glider with friends at the Rathskeller with a pitcher and some curly fries to share.”