Gazette Leader: Marymount’s 2024 grads ‘earned it by working hard’

Gazette Leader: Marymount’s 2024 grads ‘earned it by working hard’

Is there a doctor in the house? In the Garrett family, there are now two.

Shantia Garrett, a teacher in the Baltimore city school system, earned a doctorate in education during May 12 commencement exercises for Marymount University’s College of Health and Education.

Appropriately enough for Mother’s Day, Garrett became a second-generation Ed.D. holder, following in the footsteps of her mother.

It was just one of the stories that played out on the Converse Family Field at the university’s main campus in Arlington over three days of commencement exercises.

“This is going to be a fun one,” said university provost and senior vice president Hesham El-Rewini, noting the boisterousness of the graduates and guests as the ceremony got under way.

Forty-five springtimes before the Class of 2024 celebrated its success, Marlene Malek earned a nursing degree from Marymount. She chose the profession after her father, three close friends and mother-in-law had died of cancer within a short window of time.

“Of course I was devastated, but I also was motivated. I found Marymount – and Marymount found me,” said Malek, now a health-care advocate, philanthropist, vice chair of the university’s board of trustees and commencement speaker at the May 12 ceremony.

To promote a theme of giving back, Malek offered quotes from both Mother Teresa (“Some are called to do great things, but others are called to do small things with great love”) and Muhammad Ali (“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth”). She praised the students for their steadfastness in the wake of all manner of challenges.

“You deserve all the acclaim and applause, because you did it the old-fashioned way. You earned it by working hard,” Malek said.

The May 12 gathering wrapped up a three-day blitz of ceremonies marking Marymount’s 73rd commencement. Held under a mix of sun and clouds, it was a world away from the rain-soaked commencement held May 10 for graduates of the College of Business, Innovation, Leadership and Technology. (The same day, but indoors, a “pinning” ceremony was held for all nursing graduates as they embarked on their professional careers.) On May 11, commencement was held for graduates of the College of Sciences & Humanities.

Marymount president Irma Becerra told the graduates that their “resilience and determination have been truly inspiring – you persevered with courage and grace.”

“You have made us all so very proud,” Becerra said of the class, which included nearly 450 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, almost 300 earning master’s degrees and just under 200 receiving doctorates.

Live-streaming brought the ceremonies to those viewing across the globe, from Germany to the Mideast to Japan.

The university’s chaplain, Rev. Gabriel Muteru, urged graduates and families to reflect on “the miracle of intellectual growth” they have experienced. He urged them to “put the skills learned into the service of humanity.”

Founded in 1950 as a women’s junior college by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary order of Roman Catholic nuns, Marymount over the decades has grown into a full-fledged university offering degrees up to the doctoral level. The university has started planning for 75th-anniversary celebrations to be held next year.

Read the original story on the Gazette Leader’s website.