Full circle experience: A recent graduate reflects on significance of Brazilian commencement speaker

Author: Colleen Wilcox

BrazilCatarina Stella Daltro at graduation

Catarina Stella Daltro, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May with a bachelors of business administration in marketing and a minor in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. During her four years at Notre Dame, she participated in several programs through Notre Dame International. In 2016, she participated in a business program in Sao Paulo during the summer and also studied abroad in Dublin that fall. 

Daltro was set to graduate on May 20, 2018. Six months before the big day, she learned the news that Brazilian Judge Sérgio Moro was set to receive an honorary degree and serve as principal speaker at the University of Notre Dame’s 173rd commencement ceremony. 

Daltro is one of a few select students who were invited to participate in a luncheon with Judge Moro prior to the graduation ceremony, where she learned more about his story and what drove him to become a leader in their country’s anti-corruption movement. She wrote about the experience and discussed her unique perspective on graduation day. 

Notre Dame has always felt like a home away from home. However, my experience truly came full circle when I found out Judge Moro would be speaking at my graduation. Judge Moro’s contributions in this tumultuous time in Brazil has shed light on the good that can come from change. It was a very special moment to witness his work and perseverance be celebrated beyond the borders. I had the opportunity to hear Judge Moro speak in two very different settings, allowing me to have two very different takeaways from his experience. 


St 5Daltro and a group of students pose with Judge Moro after the luncheon

I first heard him speak at the luncheon, where I learned much more about the challenges he encountered in his job, as well as what pushed him to keep moving forward with his findings. In this more informal question and answer setting, the Judge discussed his moments of doubts when recognizing the weight of his job in the Brazilian judiciary system. His desire to build a better country drove him to stand behind his choices in the hopes that it will further develop the country. His candid conversation about his personal growth during this process reveled to me that there is always time to doubt our actions, but if we are driven by doing what is best for our society, it will lead to us doing well. 


At commencement, Judge Moro’s achievements were painted in a much more global perspective. He highlighted the importance of learning from history to approach the issues in our world now. He also spoke to the interconnectedness of the world by tracing back his source of inspiration to both an Italian movement against corruption and a Notre Dame alum. Moving forward, I know that what I do will not only have an impact on my community and country, but possibly affect how people go about their own achievements around the world. 


It was truly an amazing experience to have a Brazilian as the commencement speaker. It allowed me to appreciate my country in a new light because he really celebrated the positive things going on in Brazil. I was proud to see my country well represented and unified with Notre Dame. 


My experience at Notre Dame was nothing short of amazing. It prepared me for a competitive world where I will always put my best foot forward. Having Judge Moro at my graduation exemplified that it’s possible to live this life that my degree has prepared me for. 

Originally published by Colleen Wilcox at international.nd.edu on June 19, 2018.