Words of Wisdom to the Class of 2014: ‘Show Up’ and Believe in ‘Miracles’

Lakewood, N.J., May 23, 2014—Writer, peace-building expert and Catholic University professor Maryann Cusimano Love, Ph.D., challenged the Class of 2014 at Georgian Court University Thursday to believe in a “world of miracles,” beginning with the life-changing miracle of earning a college degree.

View and download pictures from our Flickr gallery of 2014 undergraduate photos

About 1,600 people—some of whom traveled from as far away as England, Arizona and Texas—packed Georgian Court’s Wellness Center while others watched streaming video of the ceremony on their laptops and smartphones. Just days earlier, other supporters attended the traditional pinning ceremony for 27 students in the GCU-Meridian Health School of Nursing who earned their four-year B.S.N. degrees.

"Today is just one in a long line of miracles you will participate in. It’s not the end of your education, but the beginning, of learning by doing, expanding your mind and heart. Georgian Court has helped you develop your faith and reason. Keep these tools sharp and close, tools that will help you navigate change and participate in miracles. These miracles won’t come sprinkled in fairy dust or unicorns, not in my experience. They may hurt, like childbirth. But you are part of a long line of miracle makers. Look around you—many of them are here to celebrate this day with you. You don’t have to have your life figured out. Just be open to impossible thoughts, like participating in miracles.

Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love

Author, peacebuilder and expert on foreign policy and religion

Dr. Cusimano Love, a tenured associate professor of international relations who also leads courses in peace and security at the Pentagon, received an honorary doctorate degree from GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D. The university also recognized commercial real estate investor, professional sports executive and YES Network co-founder Finn Wentworth with an honorary degree.

“In my post-college journey, I’ve witnessed traits in others that have also served me well,” Mr. Wentworth said, encouraging them to remember the word ‘LAP’ as an acronym for loyalty, accountability and persistence. The former CEO of the holding company for the New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Nets and New York Yankees also advised graduates to remember what a solid foundation they built during their college years, given that “challenges, mistakes and uncertainty will inform your future.”

 


Message to Graduate Students: ‘Decide to Show Up’

View and download photos from our Flickr gallery of graduate photos

The undergraduate celebration came one day after GCU’s Wednesday, May 21 ceremony for master’s students. More than 200 graduate degrees were awarded in fields such as applied behavior analysis, biology, mathematics, theology, clinical mental health counseling, education, and business administration.

The wide range of recipients included a husband-wife duo—Tom Trotta teaches in Toms River and wife Sarah Trotta in Little Egg Harbor—who met in graduate school and married in early May, as well Vermont storeowner Linda Wooliever who came to collect her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies, which she earned completely online.

New Jersey’s chief academic officer, Tracey Severns, Ed.D., used her work as a successful teacher and turnaround principal to offer the graduating class a few lessons worth sharing.

“If there is one thing I have learned as an educator, and in my work with thousands of educators across this great state, is that many enter the field wanting to make a difference, and the degree to which they actually do depends on two things,” she said. “And they are deceptively simple: The way that you choose to see the world and whether you decide to show up.”

Although some organizations put a premium on attendance—teacher attendance, student attendance, parent attendance at events—the decision to ‘show up’ goes deeper, she said.

“It’s about being emotionally available and spiritually accessible,” said Dr. Severns, who was recognized with an honorary degree from GCU. “It’s about bringing all of who you are and everything you have to offer, and giving that freely and completely in the service of others—to those who say they need you and to those who say they don’t.”

 

GCU’s President Jeffries also bestowed an honorary doctorate on Toms River Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher for showing up—from his many years spent as a prosecutor to the countless hours he has invested to help rebuild businesses and residences following Superstorm Sandy.

“He has lived his life embracing the Sisters of Mercy’s core values, especially when you consider his service to the public over the last 50 years,” said retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Eugene Serptentelli, who introduced him. The mayor, who met Judge Serpentelli 51 years ago in an elevator at the New Jersey statehouse, shared with graduates how a chance meeting between two very young lawyers led to a lifetime of friendship.

“In that elevator I had my attache case, and his was the same as mine. But there was one difference: inside his were legal briefs and memoranda addressed to the chief justice, and inside mine was a bologna sandwich and a borrowed Star-Ledger newspaper,” Mayor Kelaher said, drawing laughter from the crowd.


 

Cause for Celebration

In addition the awarding a total of 313 undergraduate degrees and 212 graduate degrees, commencement included other highlights (photos are available):

Student speakers Rose Zollner (MBA, Toms River) and Caitlin Murphy (B.S., Business; Trenton) addressed their peers at each ceremony. Ms. Zollner, who works in finance, reminded them to “make the impossible, possible.” Ms. Murphy, who just accepted a fulltime job at BillTrust in Hamilton, advised: “In all that you do, please remember to believe in yourself. Be you. It is with authenticity that you will conquer any obstacle in your path.”

Social work major Kristen Cladek (Jackson, NJ) received the 2014 Academic Achievement award. Kristen, who graduated with a 3.97 GPA, heads to Fordham University this fall to earn a master’s degree and one day hopes to work with children who have special needs.

The Virginia Graham ’31 Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to Barbara Cordasco, Ed.D., co-chair of GCU teacher education program an expert in movement and learning, and assistive technology in the classroom.

Business major and ward-winning track and field athlete Isalin Howard (East Orange, NJ) received the Julia Blake Award, which recognizes a student for loyalty and service. Ms. Howard, who spent last summer studying at John Cabot University in Rome, led the GCU Lions’ Make-a-Wish campaign in December 2013 and tripled the amount of money previously raised to more than $6,000. She looks forward to pursuing an M.B.A. in the fall.

History and Education major Samantha McGreevy (Brick, NJ), who studied at John Cabot University, received the Kingdon Gould Award, which is presented to the senior who, in classmates’ opinions, contributed the most to the welfare of GCU.

 

— Photos by William Thomas Cain

Lakewood, N.J., May 23, 2014—Writer, peace-building expert and Catholic University professor Maryann Cusimano Love, Ph.D., challenged the Class of 2014 at Georgian Court University Thursday to believe in a “world of miracles,” beginning with the life-changing miracle of earning a college degree.

View and download pictures from our Flickr gallery of 2014 undergraduate photos

About 1,600 people—some of whom traveled from as far away as England, Arizona and Texas—packed Georgian Court’s Wellness Center while others watched streaming video of the ceremony on their laptops and smartphones. Just days earlier, other supporters attended the traditional pinning ceremony for 27 students in the GCU-Meridian Health School of Nursing who earned their four-year B.S.N. degrees.

"Today is just one in a long line of miracles you will participate in. It’s not the end of your education, but the beginning, of learning by doing, expanding your mind and heart. Georgian Court has helped you develop your faith and reason. Keep these tools sharp and close, tools that will help you navigate change and participate in miracles. These miracles won’t come sprinkled in fairy dust or unicorns, not in my experience. They may hurt, like childbirth. But you are part of a long line of miracle makers. Look around you—many of them are here to celebrate this day with you. You don’t have to have your life figured out. Just be open to impossible thoughts, like participating in miracles.

Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love

Author, peacebuilder and expert on foreign policy and religion

Dr. Cusimano Love, a tenured associate professor of international relations who also leads courses in peace and security at the Pentagon, received an honorary doctorate degree from GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D. The university also recognized commercial real estate investor, professional sports executive and YES Network co-founder Finn Wentworth with an honorary degree.

“In my post-college journey, I’ve witnessed traits in others that have also served me well,” Mr. Wentworth said, encouraging them to remember the word ‘LAP’ as an acronym for loyalty, accountability and persistence. The former CEO of the holding company for the New Jersey Devils, New Jersey Nets and New York Yankees also advised graduates to remember what a solid foundation they built during their college years, given that “challenges, mistakes and uncertainty will inform your future.”

 


Message to Graduate Students: ‘Decide to Show Up’

View and download photos from our Flickr gallery of graduate photos

The undergraduate celebration came one day after GCU’s Wednesday, May 21 ceremony for master’s students. More than 200 graduate degrees were awarded in fields such as applied behavior analysis, biology, mathematics, theology, clinical mental health counseling, education, and business administration.

The wide range of recipients included a husband-wife duo—Tom Trotta teaches in Toms River and wife Sarah Trotta in Little Egg Harbor—who met in graduate school and married in early May, as well Vermont storeowner Linda Wooliever who came to collect her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies, which she earned completely online.

New Jersey’s chief academic officer, Tracey Severns, Ed.D., used her work as a successful teacher and turnaround principal to offer the graduating class a few lessons worth sharing.

“If there is one thing I have learned as an educator, and in my work with thousands of educators across this great state, is that many enter the field wanting to make a difference, and the degree to which they actually do depends on two things,” she said. “And they are deceptively simple: The way that you choose to see the world and whether you decide to show up.”

Although some organizations put a premium on attendance—teacher attendance, student attendance, parent attendance at events—the decision to ‘show up’ goes deeper, she said.

“It’s about being emotionally available and spiritually accessible,” said Dr. Severns, who was recognized with an honorary degree from GCU. “It’s about bringing all of who you are and everything you have to offer, and giving that freely and completely in the service of others—to those who say they need you and to those who say they don’t.”

 

GCU’s President Jeffries also bestowed an honorary doctorate on Toms River Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher for showing up—from his many years spent as a prosecutor to the countless hours he has invested to help rebuild businesses and residences following Superstorm Sandy.

“He has lived his life embracing the Sisters of Mercy’s core values, especially when you consider his service to the public over the last 50 years,” said retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Eugene Serptentelli, who introduced him. The mayor, who met Judge Serpentelli 51 years ago in an elevator at the New Jersey statehouse, shared with graduates how a chance meeting between two very young lawyers led to a lifetime of friendship.

“In that elevator I had my attache case, and his was the same as mine. But there was one difference: inside his were legal briefs and memoranda addressed to the chief justice, and inside mine was a bologna sandwich and a borrowed Star-Ledger newspaper,” Mayor Kelaher said, drawing laughter from the crowd.


 

Cause for Celebration

In addition the awarding a total of 313 undergraduate degrees and 212 graduate degrees, commencement included other highlights (photos are available):

Student speakers Rose Zollner (MBA, Toms River) and Caitlin Murphy (B.S., Business; Trenton) addressed their peers at each ceremony. Ms. Zollner, who works in finance, reminded them to “make the impossible, possible.” Ms. Murphy, who just accepted a fulltime job at BillTrust in Hamilton, advised: “In all that you do, please remember to believe in yourself. Be you. It is with authenticity that you will conquer any obstacle in your path.”

Social work major Kristen Cladek (Jackson, NJ) received the 2014 Academic Achievement award. Kristen, who graduated with a 3.97 GPA, heads to Fordham University this fall to earn a master’s degree and one day hopes to work with children who have special needs.

The Virginia Graham ’31 Award for Teaching Excellence was presented to Barbara Cordasco, Ed.D., co-chair of GCU teacher education program an expert in movement and learning, and assistive technology in the classroom.

Business major and ward-winning track and field athlete Isalin Howard (East Orange, NJ) received the Julia Blake Award, which recognizes a student for loyalty and service. Ms. Howard, who spent last summer studying at John Cabot University in Rome, led the GCU Lions’ Make-a-Wish campaign in December 2013 and tripled the amount of money previously raised to more than $6,000. She looks forward to pursuing an M.B.A. in the fall.

History and Education major Samantha McGreevy (Brick, NJ), who studied at John Cabot University, received the Kingdon Gould Award, which is presented to the senior who, in classmates’ opinions, contributed the most to the welfare of GCU.

 

— Photos by William Thomas Cain

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