Highlighting student success stories in Marymount’s Class of 2023

Highlighting student success stories in Marymount’s Class of 2023


This coming weekend, approximately 1,090 students will receive their degrees at Marymount University’s 72nd annual commencement ceremonies. Within this group are countless stories of success, determination and resilience that define members of the institution’s Class of 2023. Below are just a few examples of Saints who have made the most of their time on campus at Marymount.

Class of 2023: Krubel AyeleKrubel Ayele

Major: Biology
From: Accokeek, Md. (originally from Ethiopia)

How did Marymount expand your horizons?

I entered Marymount University as part of a legacy of alumni. I started as a Biology major on a pre-med track. My expectations for Marymount going in was to keep my head down, study and graduate. The warm reception from the faculty and diverse students changed my plans immensely. Thanks to the environment, I was inspired to do more and be active in the community. This led me to getting involved in several clubs, including taking the role of Vice President of the Science Club and Treasurer of Saints Unafraid. The numerous research opportunities available on campus led me to widen my perspective of what I can do with my degree. Research led by Dr. Wright ignited an interest in me to pursue a career in microbiology research. 

What will you remember most about your academic journey?

Organic Chemistry is a crucial class and point of determination for most Biology majors. It was one of the most challenging classes I’ve taken in all four years. It forced me to change my methods of studying, going from allocating 2-4 hours to 8-10 hours of studying a week. At the end, I finished the class with confidence in my comprehension of the course and a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, led me to take the role of Supplemental Instructor for the same class, helping students traverse and comprehend the same course that challenged me so deeply the year prior. It was an overall fulfilling experience that I will take with me into the future.

Class of 2023: Benjamin CardonneBenjamin Cardonne

Major: Health Sciences
From: Miami, Fla. (originally from Costa Rica)

What drew you to Marymount, and what has your overall experience been like here?

My decision to enroll at Marymount University was primarily influenced by the fact that my cousin was already a student here. However, upon joining the University, I quickly realized that it was the ideal place for me to pursue my studies. The sense of community at Marymount is truly exceptional, and the professors demonstrate an extraordinary level of care and dedication towards their students’ success. My overall experience at Marymount has been nothing short of exceptional.

Describe your involvement in the military, and what drives you to give back in that way.

I have proudly served in the Air Force for two years. Although I am not originally from the United States, I have been fortunate enough to receive countless opportunities and support as an immigrant in this country. As a result, I felt compelled to give back by serving in the military. Furthermore, the military lifestyle and the valuable lessons it imparts have resonated deeply with me.

How have you contributed to remote area medical trips organized by the University?

I have had the privilege of attending two remote area medical trips, one in Virginia and another in Pennsylvania. These experiences have been truly remarkable, as they provided us with the opportunity to extend medical services to individuals residing in areas with limited access to health care. Moreover, these trips have allowed me to apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired as a Health Sciences student. They have also fostered valuable connections with my classmates and provided an opportunity to get to know my professors better. 

Class of 2023: Porter CatherPorter Cather

Major: Biology and Psychology (dual degree)
From: Alexandria, Va.

How has Marymount helped you on your career path?

I am a Biology and Psychology dual degree student with a pre-veterinary minor, and I want to go into wildlife conservation.   

What has your experience at Marymount been like overall?

My experience at Marymount has been great! All of my professors have been amazing, and I love being able to see how the classes that I’ve taken have built upon one another and how I have personally grown throughout my time here. When I eventually got to my higher-level elective classes (like Biochemistry), I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing and hadn’t retained any information from previous classes. But I realized that I was just doubting myself, and that I was much more capable than I thought! I also had to overcome my self-doubt when I was a Supplementary Instructor for General Chemistry, as well as in my position as Head Chemistry Lab Assistant. Both of these positions involved taking charge and being confident enough to help other students when they needed support. It took some time, but I eventually grew into these roles and was able to feel that I was having a positive impact on the success of my peers. Additionally, in overcoming my shyness and lack of confidence, not only did I write and defend my Honors Thesis on attitudes towards animal experimentation, but I also presented my research at three conferences, including the regional Eastern Psychological Association conference in Boston! I will always appreciate my time at Marymount for giving me so many amazing opportunities, allowing me to meet wonderful people and showing me how capable I really am!

Sydney LamSydney Lam

Major: Biology
From: Rockville, Md.

What has been your favorite part of being a Marymount student?

One of my favorite things about Marymount is the numerous opportunities it offers undergraduate students to get involved in research. Since my freshman year, I have been a member of the Honors Program, which has allowed me to conduct research under the mentorship of some of my professors whose classes I truly enjoyed. My first Honors tutorial was done with Dr. Matthew Bakker, and focused on identifying the roots of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, a topic that was very personal and significant to me. For my Honors thesis, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Deana Jaber on an online organic chemistry card game that was designed to help students differentiate between substitution and elimination reactions of alcohols. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this project, I was able to collaborate with multiple faculty members, namely Dr. Eric Bubar, Dr. Jacquelyn Rische and Dr. Nathan Green. In March of 2023, I gave a talk and presented a poster on my Honors thesis research at the American Chemical Society national conference, which took place in Indianapolis, Ind. Conducting research during my undergraduate career, as well as sharing my Honors thesis work with other chemists at the national level, were experiences that I will never forget, and I am so proud and grateful to have been a part of such an amazing program. 

How did you stay active in the campus community outside of your classes?

One of the most notable moments of my undergraduate career was the unexpected shift to remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that began the spring of my freshman year. Taking classes online was a bit challenging at first, but my professors were very supportive and truly cared for their students and for their well-being during that difficult time. Once classes transitioned back to in person at the beginning of my junior year, I wanted to get more involved on campus by taking on a few of the many leadership positions that Marymount offers and encourages students to fulfill. That year, I served as a Supplemental Instruction Leader by providing in-class embedded support, as well as by facilitating weekly group review sessions. I really enjoyed tutoring for this course, and I decided to continue it through my senior year by serving as a course content tutor, providing one-on-one tutoring appointments for students seeking additional academic assistance. By becoming a Peer Tutor at the Student Academic Hub, I have learned how to be a better listener and a more effective communicator, which are extremely valuable skills that I can harness in the future. After graduation, I plan on applying to dental school, and over the course of the past four years, my professors have continuously supported me and my career aspirations. In fact, during my final semester at Marymount, I completed an internship at a local orthodontic clinic, which gave me a lot of insight into the field of orthodontics, a potential career of interest. Ultimately, through the research, leadership and career development opportunities that Marymount has granted me throughout my undergraduate career, I feel confident and very well prepared for my future.

Roxana Ramirez AguirreRoxana Ramirez Aguirre

Major: Health Sciences
From: Alexandria, Va.

What drew you to Marymount, and what has your overall experience been like here?

I chose to transfer to Marymount University because of the academic programs offered here, the student-faculty ratio and the location. Also, because Marymount is partnered with TheDream.US scholarship, and I knew that if I attended here I was going to meet other students like me and get the support that I needed. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given here at MU, as it has become a home for me and many Dreamer students. There is no better feeling than feeling welcomed and to know that there are people who want you to succeed. I am very thankful to have met great professors, who have helped me along my journey here at Marymount.

What is your background as a Dreamer student? How did your journey lead you here? 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have established high expectations for myself as education has always been an important factor in my life. I was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States at the age of six. My journey as a Dreamer student has not been easy at all – there have been so many obstacles that I had to overcome to get to where I am. College seemed like something financially impossible for me back then, but thanks to God and the generosity of the TheDream.US scholarship, The Dream Project and Marymount, I am accomplishing one of my dreams! Thank you to my parents, family, friends and professors who believed in me. I owe this accomplishment to each and every one of you!  

How has the Health Sciences program prepared you to pursue your career interests?

The Health Sciences program has given me a better understanding of different careers within the health field, ranging from clinical positions such as physical therapy to education, which was something new to me. The classes offered here are great in helping you understand what it is like to work in different settings with different populations. Being part of the Health Sciences program has given me a sense of community. It is great to see everyone work together. The events that are offered through this program such as the remote area medical clinics connect you with other students, professors and professionals. 

Ashly Trejo MejiaAshly Trejo Mejia

Major: Biology
From: Hyattsville, Md.

What inspired you to come to Marymount, and what has your experience been like here?

The close-knit community and the welcoming environment that the staff and faculty have created is what drew me to Marymount. During my time here, my professors have been my biggest advocates. The friendships I have made are for a lifetime. Each person at Marymount has made my four years so special — truly could not have asked for more. 

How has Marymount supported you as a Dreamer, in particular?

Being a Dreamer comes with many obstacles, but Marymount has done its best to ensure that I had an education. Through my four years, I have encountered obstacles that my advisors have supported and guided me through. This milestone is not just an achievement for me, but for my family and all my community. I couldn’t have done this without the help of TheDream.US scholarship and Marymount’s generosity. 

In what ways have leadership opportunities at Marymount helped you grow as a person?

Holding leadership positions at MU has pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged my leadership skills. I can say that I am a more confident and headstrong person. MU has taught me that above all, staying true to yourself, your values and your community are things that you will forever cherish and use in future endeavors.