Featured Photo

On May 5, Allison Lantero ’11, an English and theater major who blogged during her senior year for the independent online magazine Her Campus, posted an entry titled “Who Is Ray LaHood?”—a reference to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the University’s 2011 Commencement speaker. After addressing the annual pre-announcement speculation as to the identity of this year’s speaker (guesses ran “from James Franco to Sarah Palin,” she wrote), Lantero went on to provide a few essential facts about LaHood: He is a former middle school teacher; he served in Congress as a Republican representative from Illinois; he is descended from Catholic Lebanese immigrants.

In his Commencement speech on May 23, LaHood admitted to having seen the post, and asked Lantero to stand (above) as he read from her entry, in which she had expressed the hope on behalf of her classmates “that his speech is short.” Lantero was a good sport, shrugging and smiling as LaHood introduced himself: “Well, Allison, I’m Ray LaHood, and I promise I’ll be brief.” He went on to speak about the value of “strong community and active civility.”

Following the ceremony, Lantero was invited to meet LaHood and had her photograph taken with him and University President William P. Leahy, SJ. In a June 6 blog post, which was picked up by the Huffington Post, she wrote, “I’d like to thank Mr. LaHood: Not only did he give a short speech, but he made my graduation completely unforgettable.”

This feature was posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 and is filed under Featured Photo.

Photograph by Caitlin Cunningham