Mount Aloysius Commencement Celebrates Class of 2017

Posted on: May 10, 2017

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CAPTION: Principals—including members of the College’s Board of Trustees and honorary degree recipients—gather prior to the Mount Aloysius College’s 2017 Commencement. From left are: Ann M. Benzel, Paul Calandra, Board Chair Philip Devorris, R. Adele Kupchella, Edward J. Sheehan Jr., Mount Aloysius President Tom Foley, Honorary Degree Recipient Catharine Brennan, Commencement Speaker Jack Brennan, Mark Barnhart, Jean Messaros RSM, Cynthia March RSM, and Honorary Degree Recipient Karen Schneider RSM, MD.

Cresson, Pa.—The Mount Aloysius College Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center swelled with memories, nostalgia and positive spirits as over 3,000 family and friends watched more than 400 Mount Aloysius graduates turn the next page on their collective life-journey this weekend.  Graduates earning Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees heard fellow graduates welcome them, pray with them and tell them about obstacles overcome on the way to Graduation Day.  Certainly a highpoint of the Day, Commencement Speaker Jack Brennan—chairman of the board of trustees of The University of Notre Dame, president emeritus of The Vanguard Group, and a father of three—told the graduates about his own family’s humble beginnings.  Brennan, a descendant of four Irish immigrants, offered the graduating class six poignant pieces of advice to follow for a meaningful life.

“Be a giver, not a taker,” he began.  “Stewardship is a wonderful theme by which to live your life.  You will be paid back many times over in many different currencies.

“Be a doer, not a talker… You’re already doers—you’ve grasped the opportunity to accomplish a life goal: earning a degree from Mount Aloysius.  Many of you work at least part-time while succeeding here… always be action-oriented . . . always deliver more than promised.

“Be a `we’ person, not a `me’ person,” added Brennan.  “One of the best things about… the workforce today is that they want to be part of teams, to create collective success.”

“Be an optimist, not a pessimist,” he said.  Quoting Mark Twain he added, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened… take the glass-is-far-more-than-half-full view of the world,” said Brennan.  “It’s the path to happiness.”

Brennan’s fifth lesson was equally straightforward: “Live an ethical life.  Make your word your bond,” he said.  “Know that in matters of ethics, there are no gray areas. There is only black and white, right or wrong.”

“The Speaker’s sixth life lesson struck a chord with the packed arena.  “Finally, be a Tom Foley (President of Mount Aloysius College) …, follow your passion and your heart to make sure you life’s work makes a difference.   Measure your success by the difference you’ve made in people’s lives, not titles, wealth, or fame.” 

Cresson native and 2017 Business graduate Aaron McGuire of Cresson offered the Invocation to the assembly.  Another Cresson resident, Rachel Cain, graduating in Professional Studies, was joined by Zara Apakoh of London, UK who majored in Biology.  The two welcomed their classmates and all present to Commencement 2017.  Late in the Program, Ajai Tanea Timmons, of Allentown, Pa. represented the Class of 2017 as Commencement Student Speaker. Recounting her story, Ms. Timmons encouraged everyone present to never relent in their efforts to help others, to exude positive spirit, and to be true to themselves.  She related her reaction to the death of her mother and the resilience she summoned to honor the bond they continue to share.  Ms. Timmons will attend medical school at the American University of Antigua’s College of Medicine this fall.  

The College conferred Honorary Doctor of Social Justice degrees upon Commencement Speaker Jack Brennan, his wife, Catharine Brennan, and Mercy Sister and pediatrician Karen Schneider RSM, MD.

Karen Schneider RSM, MD, is a Mercy nun and practicing emergency-room pediatrician based at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, Baltimore, Md.  Sr. Karen has served as a Religious Sister of Mercy for more than 30 years and as a physician for 20 years.  Her remarkable journey has taken her from a Brooklyn, NY classroom, to Yale and Johns Hopkins Medical School, and now to tropical jungles and remote villages around the world.  She has led nearly 100 mission trips throughout the world.  Sr. Schneider delivered the Mount Aloysius College Moral Choices lecture for Spring 2016.

Sr. Karen Schneider grew up in Lynbrook, Long Island, N.Y.  She graduated from Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY in 1984.  Twelve years later she graduated from SUNY Downstate Medical School after teaching in Brooklyn, NY.  Sr. Schneider completed a pediatric residency at Yale University and then a Fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins.  She continues her mission, working with Doctors Without Borders and her own initiative, the Mercy Medical Mission.  In the past two years, she has become acquainted with students from Mount Aloysius College at Mercy International, Dublin, Ireland and through mission work in Guyana.

Jack Brennan, a major business leader in the United States for the last 40 years, was one of the youngest leaders of a Fortune 500 Company in history, achieving the CEO position while still in his 30s at Vanguard, a trillion dollar investment entity.  Throughout his career Brennan was actively engaged in efforts to assist nonprofit organizations and education.  He was an early proponent of pre-school education, seeing it as a door opener, especially for low income students.  He remains active in promoting efforts for inclusion and diversity in higher education and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame.

Catharine, (Cathy) Brennan is the founder of College Perspective Mentors, a nonprofit organization that provides free college counseling to low income students and their families.  She worked in secondary and college education for more than 30 years.  Cathy Brennan began her career as a college counselor at Merion Mercy Academy in Philadelphia and was the founding director of College Perspectives, a private education consulting practice.  Cathy Brennan has a Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth and a Masters from the Harvard School of Education.  She currently serves as Trustee and Chair of the Academic and Student Life Committee of the Cristo-Rey Boston High School and is a former Trustee and active member of the Founders Circle Initiative of the United Way.  She is also a Founding Director of the Radnor Children’s Foundation.

Graduates at Mount Aloysius earned Associate degrees in Liberal Arts, Business Administration, Criminology, Early Childhood Education, Information Technology, Legal Studies, Medical Assistant, Medical Imaging, Medical Imaging Ultrasonography, Medical Laboratory Technician, Nursing, Physical Therapy Assistant and Surgical Technology.  Bachelor’s degree were earned in American Sign Language/English Interpreting, Criminology, English, English Secondary Education, History/Political Science – Secondary Social Studies Education Certification, Medical Imaging Ultrasonography, Nursing, Professional Studies: Behavioral and Social Sciences, Professional Studies: Health Studies-Pre-Physician Assistant, Professional Studies: Pre-Occupational Therapy, and Professional Studies: Ultrasonography Concentration.   Graduates in the College’s graduate program earned the MBA and Master of Science degree in Behavioral Specialist Consulting, Community Counseling and Psychology.

For a comprehensive look at Mount Aloysius College Commencement 2017 go to the College’s FLICKR page.  

Aerial Photo of the Mount Aloysius Campus