Commencement Speakers
Fall 2019

Wade Kapszukiewicz, Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker

Wade Kapszukiewicz
Mayor of Toledo

Wade Kapszukiewicz was elected mayor of Toledo, Ohio on November 7, 2017 and took the oath of office on January 2, 2018, becoming the 58th mayor of the city.

Creating a regional water system, increasing the size and diversity of the police force, restoring discipline to the city’s budget, improving educational opportunities for Toledo’s youngest residents and improving city services are among Mayor Kapszukiewicz’s top goals.

Kapszukiewicz has presided over a period of strong economic growth in Toledo. In 2018, Site Selection Magazine ranked Toledo third in the nation for economic development among mid-sized cities, and in 2019 Kempler Industries ranked Toledo the fourth-best city in the United States for manufacturing jobs. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, Toledo was the fifth-fastest growing construction job market in the country from June 2018 to June 2019.

The former Treasurer of Lucas County, Kapszukiewicz helped turn a $3 million deficit two years before he took office into a $17.8 million surplus after his first year. Under his leadership, the number of police officers on the streets increased for the first time in over a decade, and his initiative to apply market pressure on gun manufacturers to prevent assault weapons from ending up in the hands of dangerous individuals was endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2019.

Most notably, Kapszukiewicz’s proposal to create a regional water system was approved by both City Council and the voters of Toledo, thereby ensuring long-term affordable water rates while sharing decision-making authority with suburban partners. Kapszukiewicz’s work to fight harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie has helped him emerge as a national leader in efforts to prevent pollution in our waterways and promote responsible environmental practices.

To encourage greater transparency in city government, Mayor Kapszukiewicz launched a monthly “Wednesdays with Wade” public meetings series.

Kapszukiewicz received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in 1994 and was named the valedictorian of the College of Communication, Journalism, and Performing Arts. He received a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan in 1996.

Kapszukiewicz is an adjunct professor at Lourdes University, where he teaches a night course in urban policy. An avid baseball fan, Kapszukiewicz had his research published in the Spring 2016 edition of the Society for American Baseball Research journal.

Kapszukiewicz is a parishioner at Gesu Roman Catholic Church. A resident of Toledo since 1973, he was born in San Diego on October 30, 1972. He and his wife, Sarah, celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary in 2019. They live in the Old Orchard neighborhood of Toledo and have two children, Emma and Will.

Maria Guadalupe Lopez Davila, Class Representative

Class Representative

Maria Guadalupe Lopez Davila

Maria Guadalupe Lopez Davila of Valencia, Venezuela has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during the Commencement ceremony. She is graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in Communication Studies and Cum Laude honors.

She came to the United States on an F1 student visa following her 2017 graduation from Juan XXIII High School in Valencia, the third-largest city in Venezuela with a population of approximately 1.8 million.

She sought an opportunity to learn and grow away from her native country’s struggles. Civil unrest began in Venezuela in 2013 and has continued to present day due to high levels of urban violence, inflation and chronic shortages of basic goods and services, such as food and water. Widespread political corruption is blamed for much of the country’s problems.

In the U.S., Lopez Davila, 20, chose to live near family in Ohio instead of Florida because “I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. I wanted to learn better English. I wanted to live through the four seasons that we don’t have in Venezuela.”

Her uncle, Alberto Bermudez, works for Cooper Tire in Findlay. He attended Louisiana Tech on a student visa and graduated as a chemical engineer. Now a U.S. citizen, he has lived in the U.S. for more than two decades. She lives in Findlay with her older sister, Maria Fernanda Lopez Davila, who also has moved to the U.S.

Bermudez recommended Owens as a good place to start her higher education. “He had friends and co-workers who attended Owens,” she said. “And I met Annette Swanson from the Owens International Office. She made you feel like this place was for you.”

Owens International Student Services helps international students assimilate into the College’s culture. “Maria is a humbly bright individual. Every goal that she sets for herself, she goes beyond it,” Lyndsay Dimick, International Students Advisor, said.

Despite taking English classes since first grade, she said her time at Owens has taught her how to communicate daily in English as she focuses on a Spanish-English communications career in business, journalism or social media. She said she is now beginning to dream in English as well.

“I was raised in an environment with strong family values. I wanted to make my family proud, to show my mom and dad they did a good job with me,” Lopez Davila said.

Her mother, Dr. Morella Davila, OBGYN, and father, Rostin Lopez, a statistician and broadcaster for the Magellan Navigators professional baseball team in Valencia, hoped to attend the ceremony.

After graduation, Lopez Davila has applied for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension to her student visa that would allow her to work for a year in a job related to her major before attending a 4-year university.

“I want to be the best of me so that I represent Venezuela and the Latino culture in what I do,” she said. “I have the duty and responsibility to talk about the good that comes from my country.”

Past Speakers