Commencement Weekend Reflections
Last weekend was commencement. Over a few years, my colleagues and I get to watch these astounding students as they come to us and then grow immensely. We walk with them for a time, then say goodbye, and we return to the starting point, but always changed. Being in higher education is truly a wonderful profession, and a privilege.
If you really want to know what’s happening in the ongoing life of Rosary College, I must again recommend that you follow our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/RCASdu. If you did that, you’d learn about the many, many things that have been happening with our students, faculty and staff over the last couple of weeks and months. I won’t try to repeat all of it here.
One of our recently retired faculty members, Robert Faltynek, came all the way from Washington, D.C. to participate in commencement because he wanted to be there for his students. That’s him in the middle with his hat off. His behavior is so typically Dominican, and my other colleagues display similar qualities in so many wonderful ways.
I’m so proud of what our students achieve. Here are just a couple of the most recent examples:
- Diane Mercadante, class of 2000, is graduating from Catholic Theological Union with a MA in Theology, Spirituality and Scripture, May, 2012. Diane is the Director of Pastoral Ministry at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, IL.
- Kristina Snyder, a Dominican Graduate from 2008, just graduated with a Maters of Science Degree for a Pathologists’ Assistant from Roselyn Franklin and has landed a job at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
- Halina Bednarz has been accepted to Rush University, Master’s in Occupational Therapy program.
- Monica Ignas has been accepted to Midwestern University, Master’s in Occupational Therapy program.
- Natalie Waksmanski (Class of 2012, joint engineering program student in civil engineering) was accepted into Illinois Institute of Technology’s Ph.D. program in Civil Engineering and will begin her studies this fall.
- Angelina Myers (Class of 2010, a former Golden Apple Scholar) was accepted into Northeastern University’s M.S. program in Mathematics and will being her studies this summer. Since her graduation in 2010, Angelina has been teaching at Whitney Young Magnet High School. She will continue to teach there and is attending graduate school part-time.
- Anna Walenski was accepted to the Dominican School of Theology and Philosophy, in California.
- Three recent Dominican graduates–Mackenzie Brooks, Drew Carson, and Mike Hernandez — presented a poster in St. Louis, April 26-28, at the Consilience Conference: Evolution in Biology, the Human Sciences, and the Humanities. Their poster, “Literary Drosophila: A Fiction Science Project,” won the award for Best Poster in the Humanities.
- At the Driehaus Fashion Excellence fashion show, Laura Lanzerotte received the second place award (and a $2,500 prize), and she been chosen as one of five finalists in the Stanley Paul Red Carpet Competition.
- John Ponitikis will start a Ph.D. program in chemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall.
- Elizabeth Dunn will be attending Ball State University this fall studying Organizational and Professional Communication Development.
- Gabrielle Pryce will be attending Kings College London in the fall.
- Amanda Emery, a former undergrad at Dominican, will be graduating medical school this year and starting her residency at University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
- Nicole Gentile, another recent grad, is doing her residency at the Mayo Clinic.
- Josh Johnson, one of our painting seniors, was accepted to the MFA in Painting Program at American University in Washington DC.
- Omar Camara defended his Ph.D. dissertation recently at the University of St. Andrews.
- Here’s a blog from recent graduate Katy Farkus exploring her experience as a teacher in Korea.
The list goes on.
Also at commencement, undergraduate and Mulroy Award recipient John Pontikis gave a wonderful talk, and said this:
What’s Dominican about Dominican is its wonderful balance between having extensive resources for research and creative investigations and a community that allows every student to have an opportunity for such learning experiences…. In learning how not to be afraid to voice new ideas, to disagree with what is “known” and believed, how to imagine difference, experiment with new possibilities, and just be a good Dominican — our soon to be alma mater has given us the tools for life long success — now we just have to run with it!
My faculty colleague, Rebecca Pliske, recipient of this year’s Rosary College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Leadership and Teaching Award also spoke, and said this:
1) Wake up each day and thank your God that you are alive. Fortunately, most of us will not have repeated near-death experiences like my father had as a bombardier in WWII. But, we all have many things for which we should be grateful. I believe a deep sense of gratitude will motivate you to make the most of each day.
2) Learn from your mistakes.
- Pay attention to what you could do differently in the future.
- By engaging in deliberate reflection, you will make it more likely that your actions will lead to positive outcomes for yourself, and for others.
Graduates: My colleagues and I have done our best to help you acquire the knowledge and skills you need to be successful. Now we want you to work with other members of your generation to create a more just and humane world.
It’s been a good year. Here comes summer, with lots of interesting courses, study abroad programs in El Salvador, China and Florence, our Blues and the Spirit Symposium, our Colloquium for Dominican colleges and universities, and so much more.