Griffin, Jones to address GSU graduates
May 30, 2013 1:42PM
Updated: July 3, 2013 6:08AM
Graduating Governors State University students Michael Griffin, of Carpentersville, and Shaniqua Jones, of Harvey, were selected to give commencement addresses during June 8 ceremonies at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
Griffin will speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony and Jones will speak at the 5 p.m. ceremony.
Nearly a decade after being wounded in Iraq, Griffin is receiving his bachelor’s degree in social work, committed to helping fellow veterans deal with the scars of warfare.
In 2004, Griffin was a U.S. Army sergeant when his unit was attacked in what he describes as a “head-to-head” battle. He was shot four times by an Iraqi insurgent, suffering life-threatening injuries to his stomach and leg. Six months later, he was released from the hospital but he said he still does therapy.
Griffin was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for providing key details about the enemy’s whereabouts after he was shot.
After leaving the service, Griffin enrolled at Harper College, then entered GSU’s social work program. Griffin, the father of two children, plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and eventually earn a doctorate. He wants to work with veterans at the Hines VA Hospital or a similar facility, helping former service personnel deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Last fall, Griffin was chairman of the committee that organized a community forum at GSU that took an uncompromising look at topics such as PTSD, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, women in leadership roles in the military, family members of combat victims, and putting wounded warriors to work through economic empowerment.
Jones is receiving a master’s degree in criminal justice. She plans to pursue a doctorate in leadership through GSU’s College of Education.
She is committed to bringing the principles of restorative justice — in which offenders are kept out of the court system by taking responsibility for their actions and working with victims to repair harm — to her own community, according to a news release.
This year, Jones launched a pilot program in restorative justice at a middle school in Harvey. These are especially challenging times for middle school students since social media has become a dominant force and cyberbullying is rampant, she said.