May 8th was a day of joy and celebration for Marymount graduates and their families. More than 450 undergraduates and 350 graduate students walked across the stage at DAR Constitution Hall to receive their degrees at the University’s 60th Commencement Ceremonies.
Retiring Marymount President James E. Bundschuh
gave the undergraduate Address
, and Barry J. Fitzpatrick
, chairman of Marymount’s Board of Trustees and former chairman of the Board of BB&T Virginia, delivered the graduate Address
. Mr. Fitzpatrick also received an honorary doctorate in recognition of his outstanding integrity and leadership in the banking industry and his dedication to excellence in higher education.
This Commencement was Dr. Bundschuh’s last as Marymount’s president, and he told the graduates that he and his wife, Lois, would “miss the students most of all.... Seeing all of you, and being a part of your lives, has made my days at Marymount beautiful ones.” Dr. Bundschuh then quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s talk with university presidents in 2008, when the Pontiff stated, “Knowing the truth leads us to discover the good.” Dr. Bundschuh continued, “I would add that seeking the truth with an open mind and an honest heart empowers us to do the good and be the good.... Use your education as a foundation to continue your search for truth, and use your God-given gifts to help make this a better world.”
At the afternoon graduate ceremony, Mr. Fitzpatrick told Marymount’s newest alumni, “The thought I most want to share today is this: In everything you do, let integrity be your guide.” He pointed out that Marymount is dedicated to educating the whole person and that a synonym for “integrity” is “wholeness.” In closing, Mr. Fitzpatrick encouraged the graduates “to be optimistic…, to have the courage to make a difference…, to find your passion and pursue it…, but above all…to remember the image of integrity as wholeness…, remembering always that your actions should be guided by the workings of your intellect and your spirit.”
The graduates who gave the addresses for their class echoed similar themes. Maame Amponsah of Beltsville, MD, who earned her Bachelor of Business Administration, said, “Higher education has given us the opportunity to grow in understanding of who we are… and commit to being our best and truest selves.” She added, “Just as many have given us a helping hand, let us do the same for others.” Sherrie DiFronzo of Annandale, VA, who earned her Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology, pointed out, “We leave [Marymount] with better disciplined minds, ready to do good work.”
At the morning undergraduate ceremony, Samuel Hazo, a National Book Award finalist and former Sate Poet of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in recognition of his accomplishments as a poet, author, and teacher, and for his advocacy of the value of the written and spoken work in the modern world. He recited two poems dedicated to professors and students. In the latter, he left the graduates with the question, “What is the future that the past made possible?”
At the graduate ceremony, Marymount’s highest honor, The Majella Berg Medal, was awarded to Marlene A. and Frederic V. Malek, longtime Marymount friends and benefactors, in recognition of their lives of outstanding leadership, service, and generosity. Mrs. Malek, a community activist, healthcare advocate, and patron of the arts, is vice chair of Marymount’s Board of Trustees and president of Friends of Cancer Research. She is also a Marymount Nursing alumna. Mr. Malek, a respected business and civic leader, is the founder and chairman of Thayer Lodging Group and Thayer Capital Partners. His distinguished career in public service includes serving as an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Accepting the award, Mrs. Malek paid tribute to Sr. Majella Berg, who was president of Marymount from 1960 to 1993, saying, “Everyone loved her.” Pointing to Marymount’s “spirit and values,” she added that her family’s support of Marymount is “a true labor of love.”
Additional Student Recognitions
Sister Majella Berg Service Award – presented to the graduating student who has made the most significant contribution in the area of community service
Kate Bell of Abingdon, MD, B.A. in Psychology, magna cum laude
Kate Bell’s Marymount experiences are directly affecting her career plans. She plans to go on to graduate school and get involved with community service and nonprofit organizations. She explains, “What led me to this desire to serve was my experience in the Dominican Republic on an Alternative Spring Break trip. We spent a lot of time with the Dominican people and, for a week, we lived in the mountains as they live. We left for the DR planning to help the people we would encounter; we came back to DC realizing that they had helped us so much more.” Kate was also fully involved in campus life, serving as an orientation leader, student ambassador, and a member of the Campus Ministry student leadership team. She co-led the Grate Patrol, delivering breakfast to DC homeless once a month, and volunteered at Argus House, a community-based group home for at-risk boys. In addition, Kate was a member of the Cross Country team during her freshmen and sophomore years and then was on the women’s lacrosse team. She also was a student instructor in the General Psychology Lab.
Bishop Ireton Award – presented to the graduating student who has had the greatest influence of good on his or her companions (selected by the graduating class)
Laura Schaefer of Falls Church, VA, B.A. in Politics, cum laude
A citizen of the world, Laura Schaefer has lived in China, Japan, Spain, and Tanzania, in addition to the United States. At Marymount, she has been especially active in Campus Ministry, serving on the student leadership team for three years, co-founding a faith group, organizing a volunteer program at Sunrise Assisted Living, and participating in Alternative Spring Break. Laura also tutored fellow students in the Learning Resource Center. Laura’s spring service trips to Banica in the Dominican Republic had perhaps the greatest impact on her. She explains, “I feel a real solidarity with the people in Banica. Through these trips, my faith life has grown by leaps and bounds. I come back each year because this is the spot where I feel closest to God.” After graduation, Laura will return to Banica for a year of service work.
Mother Butler Gold Medal – awarded by the faculty to the graduating student who has shown the greatest devotion to the ideals of Marymount
Jo Ann McLaughlin of Allison Park, PA, B.A. in Communication, summa cum laude
An Honors Program student, Jo Ann she has been a leader of Campus Ministry’s faith and service activities throughout her years at Marymount. On campus, she volunteered with the annual HalloweenFest and Special Olympics Basketball Tournament, helped create the Women of Faith residence hall community, was a faith discussion group leader, and sang in the Chapel Choir. Jo Ann also participated in Campus Ministry retreats, a journey to the Holy Land, and Alternative Spring Break service trips to the Dominican Republic. In addition, she was a resident assistant and student ambassador. Reflecting on her Marymount years, Jo Ann says, “I love that Marymount is a diverse, welcoming community. Not only have I grown in my Catholic faith, I have gained a deeper understanding of other faith traditions. When I started at Marymount as a freshman, I thought I just wanted to get a great job in DC after graduation. As my faith and understanding have grown in my years at the University, I’ve found that my faith is informing my career decisions. Now I feel that serving others is much more important than a great paying job. From that comes joy and fulfillment. So, I want to get a Counseling degree eventually, and I want to do at least a year of service work after graduation.” Now that graduation has arrived, Jo Ann will be spending a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps before attending graduate school.
PHOTO CAPTIONS - all photos by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos unless otherwise noted
Photo 1 - Congratulatory hug
Photo 2 - Retiring Marymount President James E. Bundschuh is applauded following his Address. Pictured in front: Dr. Sherri Hughes, Provost; Dr. Bundschuh; and Barry Fitzpatrick, chair of Marymount's Board of Trustees
Photo 3 - Marlene and Fred Malek, recipients of The Majella Berg Medal, Marymount's highest honor (photo by Laurie Callahan)
Photo 4 - Barry Fitzpatrick gives the Commencement Address at the Graduate Ceremony
Photo 5 - Dr. Samuel Hazo (left) receives an honorary doctorate from President James E. Bundschuh