MU announces 2019 graduation awardees

Gillian Mazur, Staff writer

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As graduation day approaches, several seniors have been recognized by the university for their academics, leadership and service. Nominated by faculty, staff and administrators, eligible students are drawn from a list of seniors who are set to graduate by spring.

In coordination with the Office of Academic Affairs, those nominated are then required to submit a résumé indicating what they have accomplished during their time here at Mercyhurst. The letters typically include activities in which the candidate participated in, such as Mercyhurst Student Government, Ambassadors, Peer Tutoring, etc. Together the committee and Office of Academic Affairs select who has not only fulfilled the requirements, but gone above and beyond.

The selected names are then sent to the President’s Cabinet for a final decision, which is announced prior to graduation. Those awarded also have the honor of attending an honors convocation on the Friday before graduation.

This year, Vincent Marrazzo has been awarded the highest student award given to a traditional student, the Carpe Diem Award. This award is presented to a senior who has made the most positive impact on the life of the Mercyhurst community and who best exemplifies the university motto “Carpe Diem” – “Seize the Day.”

“I think I lived out the university motto of Carpe Diem by wholly committing myself to everything that I do and never being content with the status quo,” Marrazzo said. “I always strive to improve myself and my community by serving others.”

Marrazzo will be presented this prestigious award and have the honor of speaking during graduation on May 12. Triple majoring in Intelligence Studies, Information Technology, and Religion, Diplomacy & International Relations, Marrazzo also served as the 2018-19 MSG President.

“I am just so humbled to have received this honor, and I am looking forward to sharing my message with my fellow classmates at commencement,” Marrazzo said.

A pre-med student and quarterback for Mercyhurst’s football team, Douglas Altavilla Jr. has received the Bishop’s Award for Academic Excellence. This award is presented to a graduating senior who is considered a top scholar among the graduating class. While the award is given based off of GPA and program demands, the rigor associated with dual majors and minors is also considered.
The Registrar’s Office provides the selection committee with a list of the top five students with the highest cumulative GPA and the committee then chooses the winner. The recipient of this award is also presented with a cash award from the Catholic Diocese of Erie.

Erin Jenkins, a double major in Art Therapy and Art Education, will be presented the Sister Carolyn Herrmann Service Award for her dedication to giving back over her time at Mercyhurst.
“Service has a magic about it,” Jenkins said. “It can bring anyone and everyone together. Service has always been something quite special to me and it’s an honor to have been acknowledged for this.”

The Sister Carolyn Herrmann Service Award is given to a traditional graduating senior who has unselfishly given time, energy, loyalty and talent in the spirit of Sister Carolyn Herrmann, Mercyhurst president from 1962-70.

A regular volunteer, Jenkins’ favorite part of serving others is the pure joy of watching others be happier.

“I am blessed to have just been nominated for this award. I am beyond thankful for all of the opportunities Mercyhurst has given me and I could not be more excited to graduate and carry these lessons with me beyond the gate,” Jenkins said.

Receiving the Frank Barry Leadership Award is Justin Hawkins. Named after one of the first male student government presidents, Frank Barry ’75, this award is given to a traditional graduating senior who has exemplified student leadership and campus involvement during one’s time at Mercyhurst.

The last traditional undergraduate student award has been presented to Biology major and Chemistry minor Emily Pacer. The Mother Borgia Egan Honors Award recognizes the model honors student who fully embodies the spirit of a liberal arts education.

“I am so excited and honored to be receiving this award,” Pacer said.

The winner of this award must complete the requirements of the Honors Program and demonstrate an appreciation of the cultural environment of the University, academic and professional accomplishments and a dedication to community service.

“I have done so much work for the Honors Program, and I am proud to represent it,” Pacer said. “Towards graduation, I am nervous for all of the work I need to get done before then, but it will be a really great day to celebrate the class of 2019.”

In addition, two adult undergraduate students have received awards. Patrick Smith has been presented with the Catherine McAuley Adult Student Award in recognition of superior work, as well as personal and professional achievement.

Given to a nontraditional student, the criteria for this award is the most outstanding adult student in the graduating class which is based on GPA, professional achievement and other challenges that an adult student may face such as familial responsibilities.

Katherine Kapanick has been presented the President’s Award for Adult Excellence. The requirements for this award are GPA and overall contribution to the institution with nominations coming from the deans of each college.

For the President’s Award for Excellence in the Academic College, each of the four colleges nominate three traditional graduating students based off of GPA and overall contribution to their respective college.

Rose Pregler and Elizabeth Rathburn have been awarded this honor on behalf of the Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences have presented Margaret Hackney and Meghan Maker with the President’s Award for Excellence.

The Walker College of Business has awarded the President’s Award for Excellence to Morgan Stacey and Gabriella Macera.

Lastly, Anna Warner and Angelea Belfiore have been presented this award on behalf of Zurn College of Natural Health and Sciences.

The Sister Eustace Taylor Graduate Student Award is given to seven graduate students with the criteria consisting of GPA and overall contribution to the respective college. Thomas King (Applied Intelligence), Jenny Sabliov (Criminal Justice Administration), Ron Richardson (Data Science), Jennifer Webb (Forensic & Biological Anthropology), Kristen Cameron (Organizational Leadership), Nicholas Smith (Physician Assistant Studies), Shernee Bellamy (Secondary Education: Pedagogy and Practice) and Megan Teall (Special Education and Applied Disability Studies) have all been awarded the honor of receiving the Sister Eustace Taylor Graduate Student Award.

Congratulations to the awardees for the Class of 2019!

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