SJU Class of 2023 Commencement Celebration

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Publication Date



May 14, 2023
The One Hundred Sixty-Sixth Year

Abbey & University Church
Saint John's University

Kurt Vickman, founder and CEO of Good Grocer and a 1994 Saint John’s University graduate, delivered the Saint John’s University commencement address at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 14, in Saint John's Abbey and University Church.

Vickman addressed the 2023 SJU graduating class of 332 undergraduate men and 23 School of Theology and Seminary graduates.

Durran Thompson, a graduating accounting major from Nassau, The Bahamas, was the student commencement speaker.

Vickman is a social entrepreneur, real estate developer and cultural innovator. As both a nonprofit and for-profit entrepreneur, he has built and led successful start-ups for much of his life.

In 2002, Vickman founded the Upper Room community on the belief that a church should not just be about educating people but experientially engaging them to be a force for good in the world. Over the course of the next three years, Upper Room would grow from a few hundred people to more than 1,000 attending weekly.

Vickman founded an innovative, social business in South Minneapolis called Good Grocer in 2011. As the country’s first volunteer powered grocery store, it is dependent on hundreds of volunteers to make fresh, quality food accessible and affordable to those in need.

To date, Good Grocer has more than 500 volunteers who work monthly as cashiers, baggers and stockers in exchange for a 20% savings on their groceries.

Thompson’s community service includes his role as president of the Saint John’s Senate, former vice president of finance for Delta Sigma Pi, treasurer of the Archipelago Club Association, residential assistant, entrepreneur scholar and opera workshop performer. Most recently, Thompson was inducted into Sigma Beta Delta.

Thompson was excited to see what's next as he enters this new chapter of his life. He aims to set an example for other people to rise up and be the change our society needs.

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