Springtime is always welcome. Memories of cold weather fade, and summertime beckons. Late April and early May bring a glorious procession of year-end events — Honors Convocation, Spring Fling, SGA Awards Lunch, Senior Send-Off, Senior Athlete Dinner, Senior Leaders Dinner, to name but a few, and then Baccalaureate Mass and, finally, Commencement.
I love this time of year. Yes, it is a bittersweet time. Faculty, staff, and administrators bid farewell to students whom we have come to know well and care about deeply. Students realize, perhaps for the first time, how much a teacher, coach, secretary, or administrator has touched (often changed) their lives.
But these weeks are also marvelous and celebratory, featuring special young women and men: Our Seniors. They become proud alumni. And all at Alvernia are in turn proud of them, graduates prepared "To Do Well and To Do Good."
Here are profiles of just a few of these special seniors. They are scholars, student-athletes, servant leaders, difference-makers, one and all. And they have excelled and made an impact in multiple ways.
RYAN CUPO is our distinguished Senior Scholar, one of eleven Honors Program graduates, a double major in Chemistry and Mathematics, and an invaluable member of our Holleran Center project tutoring inner city children.
JESSICA NEWCOMER, another Honors Program graduate, is a double major in communication and political science and winner of awards in both fields along with recognition as one of the Outstanding Students in the Humanities. She is also the head tour guide for Admissions.
ANDY KAUCHER, a stalwart member of Sigma Tau Delta and a student ambassador, has been chosen to be the student speaker at graduation. He earlier earned the distinction of dowsing me during the fall ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So I wonder, will he actually graduate?!
Here’s a shout out to the other eight graduates of our Honors Program. They are a notable group: Tina Marie Streleckis, Brianna Whitton, Casey Green, Melissa Fellenbaum, Slate Kleinsmith, William Grigas, Kathleen Fitzharris, Katlyn Roginsky
Four other seniors were honored this spring as scholars as well as athletes. KATE YOH, an athletic training major, and JOSH WOLLASTON, an accounting major, received conference-wide recognition as the MAC Outstanding Scholar-Athletes in Women’s Basketball and Men’s Soccer, respectively. Alvernia’s own Outstanding Scholar-Athletes were JACQUELYN STRANGE, a social work major and women’s lacrosse player, and KIRBY TURNER, a biochemistry major and member of the men’s basketball team. Kirby shared with two senior teammates, HARRISON DEYO and LAMONT CLARK, the thrill of bringing Alvernia our third consecutive conference championship, including many of the over 200 wins now amassed by Coach Miller and his additional grey hair from back-to-back championship game thrillers. This trio has plans for medical school (Kirby), law school (Harrison), and business after more basketball (Lamont).
Two other seniors became good friends through their service work and because they had the privilege of being our initial Assisi student pilgrims.
JENNIFER TOLEDO has combined study in early childhood education, Spanish, and psychology with service in the South Reading Youth Initiative, Project Exploration, and our new Reading Collegiate Scholars Program and participation in both Alpha Phi Omega and the Alternative Break program. A Holleran Fellow, she is the winner of our Franciscan Peace and Justice Award.
Another Holleran Fellow and Assisi pilgrim, KEVIN SHAINLINE, a psychology and theology double major recognized with awards in both fields and also as an Outstanding Student in the Humanities, has been a staff member in the Holleran Center for four years where he has been active in both the South Reading Youth Initiative and Project Exploration. He has been a leader in the Alternative Break Program and is a founder of our Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity as well as a two-time resident assistant. Winner of Alvernia’s Fromm Interfaith Award, he has been nationally recognized as a prestigious Newman Civic Fellow (2014).
Speaking of servant-leadership, three groups represent Alvernia with exceptional commitment of time and talent. An exceptional group of senior RESIDENT ASSISTANTS includes many who have served 2, 3, even 4 years. Danielle Avington (2.5), Bianca Gibson (2), Terence Harrington (3), Tim Hinchey (2.5) Jennifer Innamorato (2), Laura Mauroschad (4 ), Marlee McNerney (4), Victoria Oliver (3), Jennifer Petrilla (4), James Ragsdale (2), Robert Reitz (2), Alexander Roche (3), Kevin Shainline (2), Jared Toll (3), Erin Verdon (3).
Many others assist the Alumni Office and serve the university as Student Ambassadors or support Admissions as tour guides or in some other capacity. Here’s a shout out to the whole great gang of senior tour guides and ambassadors: TOUR GUIDES — Shannon Browne, Taylor Eichelberger, Jen Innamorato, Mark “Louie” Lacek, Jess Newcomer, John Pena, Joe Raymond, Erin Sheehan, Lindsay Bittle, Taylor Flemming, Sarah Gracely, Tim Hinchey, Marlee McNerney, John Pena, Tyler Reinoehl, Deven Samson, Jackie Strange, Courtney Wilson. And AMBASSADORS — Lindsay Bittle, Cortnee Carr, Brooke Deamer, Jamie Dearie, Kristen Eckert, Andrew Kaucher, Candace Knight, Alexander Roche’, Deven Samson, Erin Sheehan.
SHANNON BROWNE, a four-year starter for women’s soccer, has been a three-year all-star for Admissions, with a leadership role for the annual Scholarship Luncheon. Her help with planning and organization will serve her well in Alvernia’s MBA program. Another faithful and long serving Admissions student staff member, JOHN PENA, is a proud CJ major, President of the Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, and a graduate of the Reading Police Academy.
Two other talented seniors, LOUIE LACEK and ALEX ROCHE, each an ambassador or tour guide, have made sweet music in the University Chorus and have also been leaders in Campus Ministry’s popular new Search Retreat Program as well as invaluable members of the student team welcoming first-year students at Connection days.
Two former SGA presidents have made wide-ranging contributions. TAYLOR EICHELBERGER, an occupational major and field hockey player, has served as an OWL, a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, and a tour guide as well as a dedicated member and officer of the Student Government Association and the student representative to the Board of Trustees. Both a tour guide and an ambassador, ERIN SHEEHAN was an early leader of our CURE-sader Club and a charter participant in the Ignite leadership Program. As SGA member and later as President, she has served her fellow students and the university community in countless ways. Having served on vice-presidential search committees, the university planning council (APAC), and as the student representative to the Board of Trustees, she has been an influential voice for students.
When we honor some of the best among us, we honor the best in each and every one of us.
So here’s to the Alvernia Class of 2015. Congratulations. We Are Proud of You. See you on stage!
Peace and All Good, Tom Flynn