2019 December Toast | Webster University

2019 December Toast

We are gathered here today to celebrate those of you who completed your academic programs in August, October or December, well before the traditional commencement ceremony in May. But that does not mean you cannot also join us in May for that ceremony at The Muny in Forest Park! It will be the 101st commencement in Webster's storied history. Indeed, you all are part of Webster's second century of graduates! So I encourage you and your families to join us and celebrate.
But first, TONIGHT is your night. Each of you has completed a long, challenging and invigorating journey to earn your degree or certificate. Tonight is an occasion to celebrate with family and friends. It is a night to toast what has been and what will be.

This time of year often finds us in a reflective frame of mind, as we make plans to gather with family and friends and look back on the year that was. That time often gives us a moment to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for.

I want to tell all of you that we at Webster are grateful for you!

We are grateful that you selected Webster for your studies, and in so doing have contributed to making it one of the top Midwestern universities in U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Colleges and Universities rankings.

We are grateful that you have finished your degree or certificate. Whether you fast tracked or had to take it one term at a time ... whether you pursued your studies at campuses in the St. Louis area or at a campus across the U.S. or abroad, or online, we are grateful that you had the determination to make it all the way to the end.

We are grateful that you joined us tonight – your degree is a special milestone that deserves a special occasion!

And of course, we are grateful to your support network.

To the family and friends of our graduates here tonight, we thank all of you who have supported these wonderful students along the way! We know how important you are to the success of our graduates. So at this time, I'd like to recognize those family and friends: Will everyone who is here tonight as a guest of a graduate please stand up and let us thank and recognize you? It is a great gift you have provided, supporting these graduates as they pursue their dreams.

From all of us at Webster, we thank you.

Similarly, we are grateful to the many faculty and staff members who were important to your success. The ones who provided you that Webster personal touch. The ones you will recall in the future as you remember your days as a Webster student. Many of them are here tonight. So now I would like to invite all Webster faculty and staff to please stand and be recognized.

Last but not least...our graduates! I know you are dispersed throughout the hall with your family and friends. Please, take this moment to stand and be recognized. If you are celebrating your Webster degree tonight, please stand and accept our applause.

For you, Webster graduates, may you always cherish where you came from, celebrate what you have achieved, and keep your eyes on your wishes and goals for a thriving future.  Whatever motivates you and drives you forward, I encourage you to hold tight to those goals – for you, for your family and for the community you call home. Congratulations!

And now it is my pleasure to introduce your keynote speaker, Tony Sansone Jr. Anthony Sansone, Jr. is an accomplished senior executive with 40+ years of experience across numerous industries. Successful at understanding markets, key business and financial operations, Tony is the founder and CEO of the commercial real estate investment firm, Sangita Capital Partners. Sangita Capital Partners is focused on attracting private equity investors with a concentration in a variety of asset classes. Prior to the development of Sangita, Tony was the principal of Sansone Group, which is a nationally recognized full service commercial real estate firm.

Across the St. Louis region, Tony is known for his success in real estate development and his devotion and love for many civic and charitable causes. He is involved in numerous boards and charities including being the founder of St. Louis Blues Special Hockey. He is on the board of St. Louis Bank, chairman of board of interventional cardiology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, chairman of the Peggy Sansone Special Angel Foundation, and a member of YPO. He is founder of IKES kids, Honorary chair of the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery, and honorary chair of Covenant House.

Across Webster, Tony is known as a proud alumnus and parent. Tony graduated from Webster University '84 with a Masters of Arts in Business management, and ever since he has been an advocate for what Webster University does for all those in the community and our alumni around the globe. That includes his son, Michael, who earned his MBA from Webster in 2013 and joined his father at Sangita Capital Partners.

Personally, I have enjoyed working with Tony and sharing insights on Webster, the St. Louis community, and the needs of our region. He always speaks highly of Webster because he knows Webster as a former student, a graduate, a parent, and a community leader. And that means he knows the promise and potential that exists within all of you. It is my pleasure, then, to introduce our keynote speaker: Please welcome: Tony Sansone.