Sister Donna Markham, O.P., Ph.D., A.B.P.P., president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA presented the keynote address to the 340 graduates at the 6th annual winter commencement ceremony in the Anderson Sports and Health Center on campus.
The ceremony featured graduates from 11 states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Montana, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. In the College of Health Sciences and Education, 44 students graduated from the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program and 41 students received their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. The College of Business awarded 44 Bachelor of Science degrees in business administration.
In 2015, Sister Donna became the first female president to lead Catholic Charities USA since its inception in 1910. An Adrian Dominican sister, she served on the organization's Board of Trustees for eight years, including two as chair. She also is engaged in global peace initiatives directed toward building bridges of understanding and collaboration across conflict zones and has served in leadership positions in behavioral health care in the United States and Canada. Sister Donna is an internationally-recognized author and speaker in areas pertaining to transformation leadership, organizational change management, and the effective treatment of the mentally ill.
"Sister Donna has been a change agent throughout her professional career,'' President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., said. "She has been a positive role model in Catholic and health care communities. Sister Donna, like Misericordia and the Sisters of Mercy, works tirelessly for those who have been marginalized in society and are in need of opportunity. We are honored for Sister Donna sharing her transformative ways with our graduates and their guests.''
During the Commencement ceremony, Misericordia University presented Sister Donna with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Terrence Murgallis, completed the five-year Master of Science degree program in speech-language pathology in August. During his academic career, he achieved a 4.0 grade point average, presented his research at national and international conferences, and treated clients in the department's Speech-Language and Hearing Center in John J. Passan Hall.
More importantly, Murgallis said, is that he "accepted'' being a person who stutters. "In the past, if somebody asked me what my most notable accomplishment was, I would say giving my commencement address at my high graduation,'' he said during the ceremony. "Giving a speech to a packed auditorium is a formidable task for most people. Now, imagine adding a communication disorder that impact's a person's ability to express his or her thoughts fluently and the problem gets magnified exponentially.
"Today, I believe that my most notable accomplishment is confronting stuttering and beating it. ... I will always stutter. However, I stand before you as someone who has overcome adversity and to tell you that if you challenge yourself when things get difficult, you will be better prepared to face future hardships. I believe that if you persevere, you can accomplish anything,'' Murgallis added.
Shortly after completing his studies, the Wilkes-Barre native accepted a position as a speech-language pathologist with the Cecil County Public Schools in Elkton, Maryland. He said the academic and professional success he has enjoyed are because of the support he received from so many.
"I want to emphasize that I could not have gone through these five years at Misericordia without the support of the people around me – my family, friends, classmates, professors, mentors, supervisors, staff, colleagues, and clinicians,'' said the son of Terrance and Meg Murgallis. "I want you to thank those who helped you to get to this memorable day. You could not have done it without them.''
Murgallis concluded his speech by issuing a challenge to his classmates. He said Misericordia gave him and his classmates the tools they need to be somebody's role model and urged everyone to use them to change the world for the better.
"Inspire someone to make a new friend,'' he said. "Inspire someone to make a difference. Inspire someone to go to college. Inspire someone to smile. Inspire someone to volunteer. Inspire change.
"Be the change agent. Be the person who lives the charisms of Misericordia,'' Murgallis added.