Final commencement speakers announced: students react

By Jason Fridge
April 15, 2024


Cabrini’s 64th and final commencement ceremony is right around the corner, and before students receive their degrees on Sunday, May 19, we now know they will be addressed by alumnae Kylie McDevitt Kelce and Dr. Rachel Slaughter.

Kelce will speak at the 9:30 a.m. undergraduate ceremony and Slaughter will speak to all graduate students at 1 p.m.

Meet the speakers

Kylie McDevitt Kelce (left) and Dr. Rachel Slaughter (right) were confirmed on March 12 to be the speakers for Cabrini’s final commencement ceremony in May. Photo via

Kelce has been making headlines across the country as she has made herself a houshold name in the Philadelphia area. Graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Kelce hosted her own show on Cavalier Radio and was a staff writer for the Loquitur.

Kelce was also a standout field hockey player, a four-year starter who helped the Cavaliers win two Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) championships. During her time she received CSAC rookie of the year honors in 2013 as well as three all-CSAC selections. After her time at Cabrini, Kelce returned to her alma mater Lower Merion High School, where she has been the head field hockey coach for the past seven years. She also used her platform in November to host a field hockey camp in Kansas City, MO to share her passion and involve more girls in the sport.

“One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to become a part of the Cabrini field hockey family,” Kelce said in Cabrini’s release announcing the speakers. “The experience gave me memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

With her husband, recently retired N.F.L. star Jason Kelce, she supports the (Be)Philly foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the city’s youth. Additionally, Kelce hosts an annual charity event with the Eagles Autism Foundation, which raised more than $375,000 in 2023.

Slaughter earned her bachelor’s degrees in English/communication and secondary education from Cabrini in 1989. She received a master of education from Kutztown University in 2000 and a doctoral degree in cognitive studies and reading from Widener University in 2019.

Slaughter was also a Loquitur journalist, which propelled her into a part time role writing features for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Tribune while teaching during the day.

Her passion was always in teaching, and Slaughter found joy in working with children during her time as a student-teacher. She founded the Salt and Light Learning Institute in 2008 to increase the access to quality educational services for at-risk students.

Slaughter’s book “Turning the Page: The Ultimate Guide for Teachers to Multicultural Literature” was published in 2021, advising teachers on how to incorporate multicultural texts in the classroom.

Student reactions

For the first time since 2021, Cabrini alumni will address a graduating class. Senior education major Sofia Costanzo is looking forward to hearing Kelce. “It’s exciting,” she said. “Not only was she from here, but her ties to Philly sports as a whole are huge.”

Costanzo sees Kelce as a great representation of Cabrini’s spirit. “At Cabrini, we have such a tight knit community,” Costanzo said. “Even as we dwindled down with the people that stayed, we’re welcoming and close with each other. I think [Kelce] embodies that. You see that with her family, and her love for Philly sports. You could say, maybe she got that from Cabrini.”

Fellow education major and senior Marisa Canuso also believes Kelce being a Cabrini grad makes her appearance at graduation more meaningful.

“She definitely lives with her purpose,” said Canuso. “It’s cool to have someone that’s been in our shoes and has shared similar experiences. They can really relate to us in a way that no one else can.”

While Kelce’s name might jump off the page to fans of Philly sports, Slaughter brings her own wisdom to the table that intrigues students earning master’s degrees.

“As I read more about [Slaughter], I see how accomplished she is,” said graduate student Emma Turnbach.

Turnbach will receive her master’s degree in secondary education with a certification in social studies at the May ceremony. Her pursuit of a career in education makes Slaughter’s selection even more enticing.

“She’s an educator that has done a lot of work for school districts in Philadelphia,” said Turnbach. “Everything that I’ve heard about her, she incorporates social justice into everything that she’s done professionally. That’s huge, because how often do you see people carry on what they learned in school in their everyday life? I feel like that’s a good sign for someone who’s about to graduate like, ‘Oh, I can apply all of this in the real world.'”

Turnbach graduated from Cabrini in 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in education, giving her a unique perspective on having two fellow alumnae addressing Cabrini’s final class.

“As an alumna myself, I feel like there’s clearly something about Cabrini that keeps people coming back,” said Turnbach. “We’re small, but the values are there. Someone like Kelce or Slaughter who’ve gone on to accomplish such amazing things, the fact that they’re coming back is a compliment to Cabrini.”

With just over a month until the ceremony, many are wondering what Kelce and Slaughter will say.

“I’d love to hear from Rachel about how applicable the things that she learned here were with social justice and teaching,” said Turnbach. “It’s hard to see the real world examples of it, but she went on to do basically everything we learn about. I think both of them are going to have a profound effect on everyone who’s there.”

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Jason Fridge

I am a junior Digital Communication/Social Media major with a Sports Communication minor. I grew up in Lynnwood, WA north of Seattle. Involved on campus at Cabrini as a Student Ambassador, SAAC (Student Athlete Advisory Committee) executive board member, play-by-play broadcaster for Cabrini athletics, and a player on the Cabrini lacrosse team. Aspire to go into sports broadcasting and dream job would be working for a sports franchise/media company either as on-air talent or behind the scenes media member. In my free time I enjoy exercising and can usually be found walking around Wayne listening to a good podcast about sports or history!

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