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"Hope dealer" gives GVSU commencement keynote speech


Shannon Cohen, a self-described “hope dealer,” was Grand Valley State University’s Fall Commencement keynote speaker on Saturday.

Shannon Cohen is the Founder and CEO of Shannon Cohen, Inc., a company specializing in inspirational products and stationery, which can be found in national retailers such as Target and Meijer, as well as podcasts and speaking engagements. The company will soon be branching out into coaching and networking.

“I’m really passionate about wellness and work and the connection between holistic wellness and sustainable leadership.”

And while Cohen has had great success with her business, she says it’s not about the accolades.

“I always knew that I wanted to be a difference maker, that I wanted to use my strength for service, not status.”

Cohen graduated from GVSU with her bachelor’s in international studies in 2000, and received her master’s in public administration in 2011. She says it was an honor to be the first-ever GVSU alum to be invited to give a commencement keynote speech.

“To be able to come back and now be catalytic in the lives of these graduates that we will be releasing out into the world to be difference makers themselves is great. It’s a gift.”

She says the main message she hopes the graduating class takes away from her speech is to remember to celebrate just how far they’ve come.

“When you think about how they have had to journey through not just ever-changing realities in their educational experience and how learning occurred and where learning occurred, but to do that in the midst of pandemic is something that they should celebrate.”

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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