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Commencement 2009: MU Grads Urged to Live by Their Values in Exciting but Challenging Times

Monday, June 01, 2009
More than 460 undergraduates and 340 graduate
students participated in Marymount University’s 58th Commencement Ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 10.

Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour with
Jim Lehrer, gave the undergraduate address. The
Honorable Robert M. Kimmitt, who served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury from August 2005 through January 2009, delivered the address to the graduate students. Both were awarded the honorary degree Doctor
of Humane Letters.

Gwen Ifill
A posthumous honorary degree was also awarded to John
Gioia, a prominent businessman and longtime friend of Marymount who died in December 2008. Mr. Gioia was a member of the University’s Business School Board of Visitors from 1999 through 2008, serving as that board’s chairman from 2001 through 2003. In 2002 he was elected to Marymount’s Board of Trustees; he remained an active Trustee until his death.

At the graduate ceremony, Marymount’s first Majella Berg Medal was presented to Rose Benté Lee. The medal was established in 2008 as the University’s highest honor. It will be awarded periodically in recognition of outstanding accomplishments that are consonant with Marymount’s mission. Mrs. Lee, who has served on the University’s Board of Trustees for more than two decades and been a generous supporter of many MU projects, was honored for her dedication to Marymount University’s mission, her lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, and her commitment to helping others.

A theme that emerged at both ceremonies was the importance of having strong values and a commitment to service. At the undergraduate ceremony, Gwen Ifill commented on recent historic firsts, including the election of the first African-American president and the role that the college-age generation played in the process. She applauded their involvement, but said, “True history is not about firsts. It’s about the maturing of an entire generation that stepped up to the plate. …This is an era of possibility, and you were part of it, no matter what candidate you voted for.” She added that life would be full of such “breakthrough moments” and told Marymount’s Class of 2009, “Yours was a values-based education, so you know your values and are prepared to defend them. …When something really matters to you, you have to speak up.” Ms. Ifill concluded her address by urging the graduates to “rise to the challenges, make hard choices, and apply learned lessons well.” Above all, she said, “Understand that learning does not end here today; it is just beginning.”

At the graduate ceremony, Mr. Kimmitt also discussed values and the changing times. He noted, “It’s said that the only constant your generation will face is change; I would say ‘the only constant you will face is accelerating change.’ Change is hard, but no other people are better able to deal with it than Americans, and we will rise to the challenge.” He told the graduates that they are well prepared for their professional pursuits, saying, “Marymount has given you the training and experience to seize opportunities. …You have a first-class degree from a first-class institution.” Mr. Kimmitt also pointed out that “a life well led involves service to others.” He concluded his remarks by telling the Class of 2009, “We’re proud of you; we’re counting on you.”

Student speakers Brendan Bell (Communication/Theology and Religious Studies), who spoke for the undergraduate class, and Thomas Burke (M.B.A.), who spoke on behalf of the graduate students, expressed gratitude to family, friends, and the University community.

Recognition Day Honors

A number of student awards were presented at the 2009 Recognition Day ceremony, held the evening before Commencement.
 
  • The Bishop Ireton Award, for having the greatest influence of good on one’s companions, was presented to Geoffrey Kamau (Nursing) and Steven Krzanowski (Communication).
  • The Sister Majella Berg Service Award, for the most significant contribution in the area of community service, went to Rachael Shumaker (Communication).
  • The Mother Butler Gold Medal, for the greatest devotion to the ideals of Marymount, was awarded to Yen Le (Information Technology).