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Marymount's 59th Commencement: Students Urged to Make a Difference

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
More than 400 undergraduates and 300 graduate students walked the stage at DAR Constitution Hall on May 9 to receive their degrees at Marymount University's 59th Commencement Ceremonies.

Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation and a former Under Secretary of the Army, gave the undergraduate Address, and Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, delivered the graduate Address. Both were awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

At the morning undergraduate ceremony, Father David M. O'Connell, who is retiring as president of The Catholic University of America after 12 years, was also presented with an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the field of Catholic higher education. And, at the graduate ceremony, Marymount President James E. Bundschuh announced that the Majella Berg Medal, Marymount's highest honor, was being awarded to Jeanne B. and Preston C. Caruthers. Mr. Caruthers is chairman of Carfam II Associates, a real estate development firm, and has a distinguished record of civic leadership. He has been chairman of the Arlington County School Board and president of the Virginia State Board of Education, as well as served on a variety of advisory boards and councils. Mr. and Mrs. Caruthers have been friends and supporters of Marymount University for more than four decades.

Common themes emerged among the day's speakers: choosing one's inspiration, the importance of integrity and lifelong learning, and setting out to make a difference. Mr. Augustine told the graduates, "Life is not a spectator sport." He encouraged them to "take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves," "continue learning throughout your life," and "engage in selfless pursuits outside of your regular responsibilities - just as you have been expected to do here at Marymount." Known for his own focus on business ethics, Mr. Augustine stressed the importance of a person's reputation. He noted, "When it comes to ethics, what has been done cannot be undone; there are no recalls, no do-overs."

At the afternoon ceremony, Sister Carol Keehan pointed out, "You shape the direction of your life by what you let inspire you." Health care is the field that Sister Keehan is passionate about, and she spoke briefly about the many advances that have added years to our lifespan. To those graduates entering the health care field, she urged, "Be prepared to advocate that health care advances truly advance life. Every life is a sacred treasure." And to those entering the business world, she added, "The economics of health are critical for our country. We can deliver quality health care economically with the help of business leaders." She concluded her remarks, saying, "You've been given great talents and a great education. Choose to become an inspiration to those around you."

Student speakers Ada Cuadrado-Medina (B.A. in Graphic Design) of Alexandria, VA, and Lauren Allen-Concklin (MBA) of Arlington, VA, expressed gratitude to family, friends, and the University community. They also echoed the themes raised by Mr. Augustine and Sister Keehan. Ms. Cuadrado-Medina acknowledged the uncertainty that new graduates feel, noting, "We are expected to do something positive for ourselves and for society. It's kind of hard to figure out which way to turn…. The important thing is to figure out why you are going to do what you are going to do."

Ms. Allen-Concklin remarked, "We stand here today poised to successfully tackle the game of life. We must strive to improve continuously and keep learning. Today is not the culmination of our education, but the start of it."

Sister Majella Berg Service Award - presented to the graduating student who has made the most significant contribution in the area of community service
Two Recipients
- James Boguski of Cherry Hill, NJ - Bachelor of Science in Biology
James has been an active campus leader throughout his Marymount years. He participated in Campus Ministry Association activities, was a member of the Blue Crew spirit group, and served as an orientation leader. In addition, he was the founder and president of the MU Outdoor Club. Each year during Spring Break, he has volunteered in Banica, Dominican Republic, as part of the University's Alternative Spring Break organized by Campus Ministry. In fall 2010, James plans to attend the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.

- Mike Bokosha of Harare, Zimbabwe - Bachelor of Science in Biology
Mike has made Marymount his home-away-from-home, serving as a campus leader and active volunteer in the community. He was a resident assistant and an orientation leader for new students and their parents. In addition, he organized Campus Ministry retreats and participated in Alternative Spring Break and Volunteer Service days. Mike also volunteered weekly at the Sunrise Assisted Living facility near campus. He established Marymount's Chess Club and served as its first president. Even with all his extracurricular activities, academics have remained his primary focus. Mike conducted original research on cholera and presented his results at numerous conferences. Medical school is in his future plans.

Bishop Ireton Award - presented to the graduating student who has had the greatest influence of good on his or her companions
- Lydia Russo of Vienna, VA - Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising
Lydia graduated cum laude. She has been a leader of Marymount's Fashion Club, serving as president her senior year. She tirelessly organized volunteers for a wide variety of gala fund raisers, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's annual Breath of Life Gala. The Foundation honored the club with a plaque commending the students' service. Under Lydia's leadership, the club also hosted local Girl Scout troops, talking with the girls about the disciplines of fashion design and merchandising. In addition, they sorted clothing for Dress for Success, helping clients pick out coordinating ensembles. In her senior year, Lydia served as executive head coordinator of Marymount's Portfolio in Motion student fashion show - overseeing every detail of the show's production. When fellow students are asked to describe her, they invariably remark that Lydia makes them smile. One noted, "Every time I talk to her, I walk away a happier person."

Mother Butler Gold Medal - awarded by the faculty to the graduating student who has shown the greatest devotion to the ideals of Marymount
- Elizabeth Kalk of East Greenwich, RI - Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude with the Honors designation on her degree for completing Marymount's Honor's Program. A student leader on campus, she advised new students as a Peer Mentor Program coordinator during her senior year. She also was an officer of the Global Charity Project, which raises funds for sustainable international projects - most recently for the expansion and improvement of a home for street children in El Progreso, Honduras. In addition, Elizabeth served as a resident assistant. After graduation, she will work as a nurse at a local hospital and plans to continue her studies in the field of pastoral care or theology.
Photo 1 - Graduates set forth. Photo by Matt Dunham

Photo 2 - Marymount University President James E. Bundschuh presents diploma to Ada Cuadrado-Medina (B.A. in Graphic Design) of Alexandria, VA. Ada gave the Address for her class. She graduated magna cum laude with the Honors designation on her degree for completing Marymount's Honor's Program. Photo by Laurie Callahan

Photo 3 - Marymount President James E. Bundschuh places the doctoral hood on Norman R. Augustine. Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff

Photo 4 - President Bundschuh (right) presents Father David M. O'Connell with an honorary degree. Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff

Photo 5 - Sister Carol Keehan gives the graduate Commencement Address. Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff