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Marymount Graduates: Better Citizens of the World

Monday, May 21, 2012
On May 20, joy and celebration marked Marymount’s 61st Commencement Ceremonies – the first presided over by Dr. Matthew D. Shank, who became the University’s sixth president last July. More than 400 undergraduates and 350 graduate students walked across the stage at DAR Constitution Hall to shake President Shank’s hand and receive their diplomas.

In his charge to the graduates, President Shank said, “A Marymount education is as much about developing character and values as it is about gaining knowledge and skills…. And your dedication to service – the many ways that you have reached out to help others in the local community and around the world -- gives me tremendous hope for the future. I have no doubt that you will change the world for the better.”

The Honorable Charles T. (Chuck) Hagel, chairman of the Atlantic Council and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, gave the Address to the Graduates at the undergraduate ceremony and received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his lifetime of distinguished leadership and service. He shared five lessons that he has learned through the years:

“Do what is ethical, not just what is legal; hold yourself to a higher standard.
“Take risks and seek new experiences. Don’t be afraid to fail.
“Don’t focus on the externals. Prepare yourself personally, and the professional will take care of itself.
“Give something back. We all have an obligation in life to help make a better world for all people.”
And, “Remember what really matters in life.”

Quoting Franklin D. Roosevelt, Senator Hagel said, “We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.” He added, “The world is undergoing a historic time of transformation and redefinition…Think of the opportunities you have to help shape the future…. You will have the opportunity to do more good for more people than any generation.” The Senator also stated that “the three indispensable requisites in life are faith, character, and courage.” He then proclaimed the graduates, “Saints for life!”

Daniel Carson of Arlington, VA, who earned his B.A. in History, spoke for his class and carried forward the Senator’s message. “Saints are problem solvers,” he said. “They are individuals who are prepared to go out and make a difference.”

At the afternoon graduate ceremony, Dr. Skye Donovan, assistant professor of Physical Therapy, gave the Faculty Address. She also echoed the theme of the day, saying, “Everything you’ve been taught here will help you with the decisions ahead, but true success is not the education itself, but what you do with it…Marymount has prepared you to be leaders now and in the future.”

Erica Prong of Stow, OH, who received her M.A. in Humanities, was the spokesperson for the Class of 2012 at the afternoon ceremony. She told her fellow graduates, “We recognize that we have taken another step not only in becoming better scholars, better researchers, and better writers, but in becoming better parents, better neighbors, better friends, better spouses, and better citizens of the world.”

At the morning undergraduate ceremony, Marymount’s highest honor, The Majella Berg Medal, was awarded to Dr. Linda McMahon, professor of History and Politics and the senior member of Marymount’s faculty. She joined the University in 1965 and, in addition to teaching, she served as Marymount’s chief student services officer for three decades – ending as vice president for student services and dean of students. Deeply committed to Catholic higher education, Dr. McMahon truly exemplifies the ideals of Marymount and has helped thousands of students find their places in the world and make a positive difference. In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington for the past 21 years, and was Board chair from 2003 through 2011. From 1990 to 2000, Dr. McMahon was also on the Board of the Arlington Catholic Herald, serving as vice president from 1994 to 1999. Now, as she retires from teaching, Marymount has gratefully awarded the Majella Berg Medal in recognition of her outstanding career of dedication, leadership, and service.

Accepting the Medal. Dr. McMahon remarked on the pleasure of working with students throughout her 47 years at the University. She said simply, “This is my Marymount; this has been my joy. God bless each of you.”

Student Recognitions
The Bishop Ireton Award
The recipient is selected by the graduating class for having had the greatest influence of good on his or her companions

Julianne (Julie) Tomesheski
, B.A. in Criminal Justice – from Howells, NY
As fellow student Karen Nevin says, “Julianne is the epitome of the words “role model.” An excellent student and athlete (basketball team), Tomesheski has been consistently on the Dean’s List and a Captial Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete. She is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, the Criminal Justice Honor Society (serving as treasurer), and Delta Sigma Epsilon, the honor society for students of Catholic colleges and universities. In addition, she is a resident assistant and active in Campus Ministry and volunteer activities from participating in Alternative Spring Break to assisting with MU’s annual Special Olympics Basketball Tournament.
As part of her graduation requirements, Tomesheski completed an internship with the U.S. Secret Service and calls it “the highlight of my college experience!” She is in the process of applying for jobs in the criminal justice field and hopes one day to be in the Secret Service. She also plans to continue volunteering by working with Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics.

The Mother Butler Gold MedalThe recipient is selected by the faculty for having shown the greatest devotion to the ideals of Marymount.

Farah Traih, B.S. in Biology and B.S. in Mathematics, Honors Program – from Amman, Jordan
Farah Traih has attended Marymount as the first recipient of the Marymount Jordanian Scholarship, a full scholarship made possible by the generosity of Marlene A. Malek ’79, a Marymount trustee, and Frederic V. Malek. As a teenager, Traih applied to and was accepted by the "YES" program, funded by the U.S. State Department. She spent 10th grade in Texas, living with an American family and attending high school, so she was familiar with life in America when she arrived at Marymount. As a Marymount student, Traih served as vice president of the International Club, a peer mentor for new students, and was an active member of the Science Club. In addition, she was a sought after tutor in the Learning Resource Center, adjusting her schedule to meet students’ needs. Living in the Global Thinkers community on campus, she was also a member of the Muslim Student Association and helped organize an interfaith panel for International Week. Traih demonstrates her commitment to academic excellence, faith, service, and integrity in all her endeavors.

The Sister Majella Berg Service Award presented to the graduating student who has made the most significant contribution in the area of community service.
Daniel Carson, B.A. in History – from Arlington, VA
Danny Carson was also selected by the Class of 2012 to speak on its behalf. He came to Marymount from Yorktown High School in Arlington, VA. A Marymount lacrosse player all four years and swim team member for two, he also served as a student ambassador and was active in Campus Ministry. Carson participated in faith groups and established an Athletes’ Bible Study group. In addition, he spent time off from his studies volunteering with a Christian mission at an orphanage in South Africa. Back on campus, Carson volunteered at the University’s annual Volunteer Service Day, HalloweenFest for local and disadvantaged children, and at the Regional Special Olympics Basketball Tournament held each spring. He also assisted with food drives and lacrosse youth workshops. Carson did his internship at the Woodrow Wilson House in Dupont Circle, where he was responsible for social media outreach and helped manage a new exhibit. He is now planning to pursue an M.Ed. in Secondary Education (History).
– President Shank congratulates Danny Carson (B.A., Politics)

PHOTO 2 – The Honorable Charles T. (Chuck) Hagel address the Class of 2012

PHOTO 3 – Dr. Linda McMahon, recipient of the Majella Berg Medal, leads the Commencement Procession for the last time before retiring after 47 years at Marymount.

PHOTO 4 – Graduates (left to right) Rochelle Smiley (B.A., Politics), Jocque Smith (B.A., Multidisciplinary Studies, PK-6 teaching licensure), Tiffany Smith (B.A., History), and Thiha Soe (Gasper Kay; B.A., Graphic Design)

PHOTO 5 – Erica Prong (M.A., Humanities) addresses her class at the graduate ceremony.