Education secretary Devos makes commencement speech at Ave Maria

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U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos came to Ave Maria University Saturday to speak to this year’s graduating class.

Betsy Devos in SWFL / WINK News

“I was shocked because she is such a big name person, especially in the senate and congress. To have her take time and come down to this small school was just incredible,” said Miles Stevens, one of the graduates.

Her visit was met with some controversy, however.

A few dozen alumni students signed a letter given to the Naples Daily News in opposition to Devos being selected as the commencement speaker.

In the letter, the former students say Devos’ visit was “an endorsement of a specific political agenda.”

“The controversy, that’s one thing that we all have to overcome,” said graduate Andre Antoine.

But other students graduating said politics were put to the side.

“She really made level ground on both sides, the liberal side and also conservative side. It was a very good speech,” Stevens said.

“I didn’t expect somebody of that magnitude could talk to us and put those kind words in our thoughts. It’s very moving,” added graduate Andrew Wilson.

Saturday’s visit to the university marked Devos’ third official visit to Collier County since being named education secretary.

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