Misericordia University recognized the achievements of 265 bachelor's degree recipients and 123 master's and Ph.D. recipients during separate undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, held today at the Anderson Sports and Health Center on the university's scenic campus in Dallas, PA. The graduates represented 10 different states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri and California.
Dignitaries at the ceremony included recently inaugurated President Daniel J. Myers, Ph.D., David Rehm, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs, and Monsignor John Bendik, a member of the Misericordia Board of Trustees, who offered the Benediction. Monsignor Bendik was presented with the Honorary Alumnus Award by the Alumni Association for making significant contributions to Misericordia's welfare, reputation, and prestige, and/or have shown lifelong devotion and demonstrated loyalty to the university. The academic processional and recessionals were performed by the Ceol Mor pipe and drum band.
The commencement ceremonies culminated two days of events to recognize the achievements of the Class of 2022, including a baccalaureate mass, the "Toast to the Graduates" celebration and the academic awards ceremony.
The three graduating members of the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children program were honored during the program's annual closing ceremony on Friday, May 13:
- Stacy McCarter, a mother of three children from St. Louis, MO and a Dean's List student, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood and special education.
- Rinae Cotton, a single mother and widow of twin boys from Kingston, PA, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and design.
- Cristal Nazario, a single mother of two children who joined the Women with Children program as a transfer student from the KEYS program at Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster, PA, is a Dean's List student and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, healthcare management specialization.
During the graduate commencement ceremony, Dr. Myers recognized the unique circumstances that each of the graduates faced during the pandemic. "The last few years have been unprecedented in living memory. For those of you graduating today, be assured that we all recognize the significant additional hurdles the pandemic has placed in front of you to achieve your degrees," he said.
Dr. Myers went on to remind students of the value of a Misericordia University graduate degree, which "is based, not in small part, on the academic rigor and high standards which our faculty have built into their programs. The education you received here will surely empower you to meet the challenges you will face as you advance in your careers, building businesses, treating patients, teaching students and in any one of the myriads of other opportunities available in today’s dynamic workforce."
Alexandra Woodward, a summa cum laude graduate from Marriottsville, MD who received a Bachelor of Science in health sciences in pursuit of her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology, was selected to speak on behalf of the Class of 2022 at the undergraduate ceremony. She reminded her classmates of how much they have changed and grown over the last four years, particularly in the face of adversity.
"Sitting here, graduating today, we are not who we were when we first set foot on campus. The Misericordia University community welcomed us all with open arms and gave us four years that we will never forget," she said.
Woodward went on to remind her classmates that, "in being a part of this community here on campus, the four charisms set forth by our school’s founders were instilled within us: mercy, service, justice, and hospitality. We have been taught mercy in the forgiveness of wrongdoing, service in being inspired to work together and give aid to those in need, justice in being reminded to do what is right for the greater good, and hospitality in treating strangers as friends. Not only have we been taught these values, but we have been given the opportunity to practice them through academics, athletics, and extracurriculars."
In her closing remarks, Woodward challenged her classmates to look at the end of their collegiate careers as the opportunity to begin again, much like they did four years ago when they first set foot on the Misericordia campus.
"In the decisions, trials, and triumphs yet to come, let us continue to reflect on who we want to be. We will grow into that person by taking risks, putting our best foot forward, and above all being true to ourselves," said Woodward. "We can continue to talk about the future and past; but today, let us enjoy and celebrate who we have become. Graduates, let us now walk forward as advancing individuals, one step closer to achieving who we want to be."
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 56 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats.
PHOTO CAPTION: Graduates of the Class of 2022's Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children program are, left to right: Rinae Cotton, Kingston, PA; Cristal Nazario, Lancaster, PA and Stacy McCarter, St. Louis, MO.