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ULM Commencement focuses on happiness and success

Published December 06, 2014

Over 700 students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s fall 2014 graduating class earned degrees on Saturday, Dec. 6, in ULM’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum. The momentous occasion is one that many see as the beginning of adulthood.

Degrees were conferred to 139 summer graduates, and 563 fall graduates.

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice, Marcus R. Clark served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. A ULM alumnus, Clark focused his speech around happiness and success.


Clark reminded students to “Remember, you are not only a citizen of the city you live in, you are also a citizen of the state of Louisiana, a citizen of the United States of America, and a citizen of the world; and as such, you have responsibilities to ensure that you do your best to protect and preserve not only the happiness of your fellow citizens, friends and family, but to preserve and protect the environment and community in which you live.”

Clark told students that some of the easiest ways to achieve happiness are to be involved, donate time or money, volunteer, vote, join organizations, and to “seek out opportunities to help change your outer reality.

Clark also gave students sound advice about the importance of continuing education. “I hope you realize that the degree you have earned today is not the end of learning in your life,” he said. “Not only do I hope that you continue to learn, but I hope that you continue to help others learn. You know how important a good education is, and you’ve worked hard to achieve your degree today.”

In continuance of Clark’s sentiment on the importance of hard work, ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno gave special recognition to students who have interesting or inspiring graduation stories. Bruno highlighted four of those students on Saturday.


“We all know that it takes a great deal of work and discipline to earn a college degree, whether it’s your first degree, or your third,” he said. “Each year, I like to find graduates among you who have unique stories to tell, and I would like to introduce you to a few of them, today.”

Sailesh Wagle came to ULM in 2011 from Kathmandu, Nepal. Wagle was also honored as a Magna Cum Laude graduate. Wagle leaves ULM having already secured a full-time position with Southwest Airlines. He graduated with a B.S. in computer science.

Michael V. Johnson II, a member of the ULM Football team since 2011, was also recognized by Bruno. Throughout his career he earned academic awards and Sun Belt Conference honors. Johnson will return to ULM in the spring. He has been accepted into the history master’s program, and will be a department graduate assistant. Johnson graduated with a B.A. in history.

Brooke Keels, a third generation ULM graduate and current ULM employee, earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her father and grandfather are ULM alumni, and her husband Scott is also a graduate and now an employee of the university. Keels serves as the Assessment Coordinator for the College of Arts, Education, and Sciences. Brooke and Scott have one son, Liam.

Ariel Conley earned an M.Ed in educational technology leadership completely debt-free. Conley came to Monroe from Lake Charles, and worked 20-hours a week as a graduate assistant. Conley worked for both the School of Education and the ULM Child Development Center.

Several honor graduates were also recognized during the ceremony. They are designated as summa cum laude (3.900-4.000), magna cum laude (3.750-3.899) and cum laude (3.500-3.749).

For a full recording of the ceremony, visit ulm.edu/commencement/

For the list of the fall 2014 graduates, visit 2014 Fall Degree Candidates Listing


More about Marcus R. Clark


Clark graduated from ULM with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice in 1978. He went on to obtain the rank of Detective at the Ouachita Parish Sherriff’s Office before leaving in 1982 to attend the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University.

In 1985, Clark earned his Juris Doctorate and began working for the Ouachita Parish District Attorney’s Office. By 1990, he was the Chief Felony Drug Prosecutor.

Clark is the co-author of the Louisiana Drug Asset Forfeiture Law and Co-author of the National TOP Gun Seminar.
Justice Clark began his judicial career in 1997 when he was elected District Judge in the Fourth Judicial District Court. During his tenure as judge he volunteered to serve as a Drug Court Judge from 2000-2001 for the newly developing Drug Court Program, and as Chief Judge from 2004-2006.

In 2009, Justice Clark was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court. He is a member of the Louisiana Bar Association and Fourth Judicial District Court Bar Association and past member of the Louisiana District Judges Association and Louisiana District Judges Association Executive Committee.

Clark has served on a number of committees and boards including the New Judgeship Committee, Ad Hoc NCSC Study Committee, Criminal Judges Committee, Salary & Personnel Committee, Court Technology Committee and the Supreme Court Uniform Rules Committee. In addition to professional committees he has volunteered to serve on a number of community awareness committees as well. He enjoys lecturing and has been a repeat lecturer for the North Delta Police Training Academy, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, Louisiana District Attorney’s Association, and District Judges Association.

He currently serves on several boards and committees including Chairman of the Budgetary Control Board, the Sheriff’s Executive Management Institute Board, the Internal Audit Committee, the Human Resources Committee, and is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Louisiana District Judges’ Association.

Justice Clark resides in West Monroe with his wife Allyson—a neo-natal nurse at St. Francis Medical Center—and his two children, Nicole and Cooper.