2017 Commencement Speakers
Undergraduate Commencement Speaker
Dr. France A. Córdova
Director of the National Science Foundation
Dr. Córdova is the 14th director of the National Science Foundation, which is charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Previously, Dr. Córdova served as NASA's chief scientist. Prior to joining NASA, she was department head of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University and was deputy group leader in the earth and space sciences division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She also served as a member of the National Science Board (NSB), where she chaired the Committee on Strategy and Budget.
Dr. Córdova’s scientific contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation. She has been awarded several honorary doctorates by such schools as Purdue and Duke Universities. She is a recipient of NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a Kilby Laureate for significant contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention and education. Dr. Córdova was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a National Associate of the National Academies and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). She is president emerita of Purdue University, chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside, and also served as vice chancellor for research and professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her bachelor of arts from Stanford University and her doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology.
Graduate Commencement Speaker
Dr. Réka Szemerkényi
Former Ambassador of Hungary to the United States
Dr. Szemerkényi was appointed ambassador of Hungary to the United States in 2015 and was instrumental in forging the five-year cooperative agreement between Marymount and Hungary’s National University of Public Service (NUPS), a bi-lateral educational and training initiative focusing on criminal justice, forensics and cybersecurity. Previously, she held governmental posts, including Chief Advisor on Security Policy and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary; State Secretary for Foreign Policy; and Senior Advisor to the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defense of Hungary. She also was Head of International Public Affairs and Chief Advisor on International Relations to the Chairman of the Board of MOL Group, the Hungarian Oil and Gas Company. Recipient of numerous international awards, Dr. Szemerkényi has authored op-ed articles on international relations, security policy and energy security. She was university lecturer at the Institute of Kremlinology, Károli University in Budapest and at the ASERI Centre of International Relations, Catholic University of Milan, Italy.
Dr. Szemerkényi completed her master’s degree in Strategic Studies as a Fulbright Fellow at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., and earned her doctoral degree at Péter Pázmány Catholic University of Budapest.