A major snowstorm may have welcomed students back from Spring Break, and the temperature has been fluctuating wildly. But by the time this column appears, spring will be here!
Honors Convocation featured students profiled here and many others as well as offering the opportunity to honor some special faculty. And so the litany of year-end events is underway: Spring Fling, SGA Awards and Inductions, Senior Send-Off, Senior Athlete Dinner, Senior Leaders Dinner, to name but a few, and then Baccalaureate Mass and, finally, Commencement.
After 12 years at Alvernia, I now join other longtime faculty and staff who watch as students whom we have come to care about deeply walk across the stage as graduates. Roommates and best friends head home to Joisey (North, South, or Central!) or elsewhere; others sink down roots locally, fortunate to have landed good jobs that have come from internships or field placements or through referrals by faculty. Amidst the whirl of these weeks, students hopefully bump into (or seek out) teachers, coaches or other staff who took a special interest in them.
From MargaritaVern to Graduation day, celebration is THE dominant emotion. Our seniors become our newest proud alumni. Confident, too, that they are well prepared "To Do Well and To Do Good."
Here are profiles of just a few of these special seniors. They are scholars, leaders, difference-makers, one and all, who have excelled and made an impact in multiple ways.
Tyler Arnold and Erica Dunkelberger, both soccer players, have earned the Alvernia Scholar Athlete Awards. Tyler and Erica have both served the university as admissions tour guides, and Tyler has also been an RA. He is an Athletic Training major, and Erica is an Occupational Therapy major with a minor in Psychology.
MacKenzie Bartlett, a leader in Holleran Center activities and a former winner of the Fromm Interfaith Award, is one of four graduates of the IGNITE Leadership Program and a loyal tour guide for Admissions. A theology major and honors program graduate, she received the Peace and Justice Award and will pursue graduate studies at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Jenna Harper, an OT dual degree graduate, has been a four-year lacrosse player, a two-time student government officer, and both a tour guide and ambassador. She also completed the IGNITE program and has been ever-present with her camera for the sports information team.
Marisa Lombardo, a marketing major and honors program graduate, has been a student government officer, a women’s golf team member, a Neighborhood Snow Patrol leader, and an indefatigable member of the sports information team.
Here’s a shout-out to the two other Honors Program graduates — ReJeana Goldsborough (winner of a national fiction award) and 2016 Senior Scholar Jerri von den Bosch (a leader of the emerging AU chapter of the National Association of University Women) — and the two other graduates of IGNITE — Nick Jaisingh (a veteran RA), and Autumn Raine-Martinez (Dance Club member and former winner of Alvernia’s Got Talent!).
Servant-leaders abound at Alvernia. Eleven have completed over 300 hours of service.
Emilia Miller, a nurse, won the Holleran Center Outstanding Service Award, with over 1,100 hours of service as an Alvernian! Amanda Milsoit, Alexa Vath, and Emily Reed earned the Community Engagement Award, each completing more than 500 hours.
Emily, a social work major and student campus minister, was recognized last year with both Alvernia’s Fromm Interfaith Award and the nationally selective Newman Civic Fellow Award. She also served as President of Alpha Phi Omega and was a prominent leader for the Alternative Break program as well as for the South Reading Youth Initiative. She is the first student to graduate with a minor in community engagement.
Mackenzie Bartlett, Katie Jo Galezniak, Nick Jaisingh, Jamie Morris, Alexis Travers, Katelyn Weeber and Alexandra Woodard will earn the Graduation Award for Excellence in Service with over 300 hours each. Many serve in multiple roles!
Three groups of students exemplify service leadership on the campus: Resident Assistants, Tour Guides and Ambassadors.
The following RAs are graduating, with several also members of the National Residence Hall Honorary (Noted with *): Ashley Monzo*, Jeremiah Clinchoc, Tyler Arnold, Hannah Slawecki, Nick Jaisingh*, Shelby Hontz*, Zach Seaman, Matthew Amatruda*, Julianne Kuzma, Kyle Farell, and Nina Arant*.
And here’s a shout out to the whole wonderful gang of Tour Guides and Student Ambassadors! TOUR GUIDES: Tyler Arnold, Mackenzie Bartlett, Veronica Cepparulo, Brittany Crowley, Erica Dunkelberger, Katie Jo Galezniak, Elizabeth Gonyea, Victoria Gowland, Jennifer Hall, Jenna Harper, Kaitlin Higgins, Julianne Kuzma, Ashley Monzo, Rachel Moran, Emily Reed, Tyra Roberts, Angela Scandone, Kailyn Sooy, Claire Sutliff, Taylor Thomas, Sara Truncali, Ofelia Villasenor, Annie Walker, Chelsea Wehrman. And AMBASSADORS: Lauren Bull, Abigail Cannon, Brittany Crowley, Elizabeth Gonyea, Madison Kleintop, Meredith McCarthy, Angela Scandone, Carolyn Stabile, Ann Walker, and OT graduates, Sebastian Collazo, Jenna Harper, and Katelyn Pfeiffer.
Chiara Marone and Ofelia Villasenor were recognized with the Alvernia University Choral Award. Chiara has been president of the Theater Club (and a memorable actress), a participant on our dance team, and a perennial (and successful) contestant in the Alvernia Got Talent! Contest. She won second place in the 2017 Berks County competition. Ofelia, an accounting major, and Caroline McCormick, a biology major and campus ministry music minister, have been popular choices to sing the National Anthem and Alma Mater. Caroline was co-winner of the Sr. Alodia Award (along with Katelyn Weeber) and along with Emily Reed, Alexis Travis, and Erica Luna had the privilege of being selected as Assisi Pilgrims.
As always, several student-athletes have won recognition for academic as well as athletic achievements. In addition to some mentioned above, Jeremiah Clinchoc, an OT major, was the one Alvernian to be named a 2017 MAC Senior Scholar, as a star in the heptathlon. Margaret Wentzel, the new career points and assists leader in field hockey, has been a two-time MAC Commonwealth Offensive Player of the Year, two-time Academic All-MAC, and three time All-American. Marquis Marshall, a d3hoops.com Preseason All-American was MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year and an all-region first team selection for NABC, ECAC, and d3hoops.com.
More undergraduate students than can be recognized here received awards at the annual Honors Convocation. Aijah Hickey (a double major in psychology and criminal justice) was named the new Senior Scholar. Two graduates from our Philadelphia Center received top recognition. Eric Grant, a Philadelphia police officer, received both the CJ academic excellence award and the Colonel Geiger Veteran Award with a 4.0 GPA. Ryan Paskel received the Outstanding Social Work Academic Award. And several graduate business students with singular contributions to campus life will be awarded a second Alvernia degree: Nina Arant, Peter Keefe, Amber Nikolaus, and Shaun Rostek.
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 2017. Congratulations. We Are Proud of You. See you on stage!
Peace and All good, President Flynn