May 23, 2012

La Salle Bestows Diplomas to 1,000 Students at Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 20


More than 1,000 students graduated from La Salle University at its undergraduate commencement Ceremony on May 20.

Tradition at La Salle has a student deliver the commencement address. This year’s speaker was Jacob Dylik, a communication major from Hamburg, N.Y.

An honorary degree was presented to John W. O’Malley, S.J., a renowned theological scholar at Georgetown University.

For Dylik, this moment has been two years in the making.

“I remember seeing [senior] Hannah Datz deliver a commencement speech my sophomore year and thinking, ‘Wow, I can actually audition to do a speech like that?’” said Dylik, who has a 3.98 GPA.  “Ever since learning that I could audition and deliver one, I’ve wanted to do it.  I remember [senior] Pat Terranova spoke last year, and I realized how much of an honor and privilege it was to deliver the last message that our class will hear before departing into the ‘real-world’.  It’s a big challenge, but all of my friends and the faculty members have been extremely supportive – they’re my inspiration.”

Fr. O’Malley, is a renowned specialist in the religious culture of early modern Europe, particularly Italy. He is a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Society of Jesus.

Fr. O’Malley earned his bachelor’s degree in classics and his master’s degree in history from Loyola University Chicago and his doctorate in history from Harvard University. His best-known book is The First Jesuits (1993), which has been translated into 10 languages and won the Jacques Barzun Prize for Cultural History from the American Philosophical Society and the Philip Schaff Prize from the American Society for Church History.

For the first time, La Salle held two commencement ceremonies on a large-scale basis: graduate students had their own ceremony on May 18.

About 975 students received a B.A. or B.S. degree, and 34 students received an associate’s degree at the ceremony.

Among the undergraduate class of 2012 are:

Claire Fisher, who has received a Fulbright Grant and will teach English in Azerbaijan for one year. A double major in Political Science and International Economics, she was cited as the top Economics graduate.

Eugene Morris began his studies at La Salle in the 1970s but left when he acquired a job in the media. A few years ago he came back to finish his coursework and received a B.A. in Communication.

Queen Muse started and stopped her education at La Salle, and finished her career by interning at the White House. She received her B.A. in Communication.

Rebecca Owen Fontenot is a History major in her late 20s. She began college at Tulane just before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, and then relocated to the Philadelphia area. She plans on pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. in history.

Matthew Kavanagh was three years old when struck by a car, and was in a coma for almost a month from brain trauma. His family, including mother Denise, a nurse (and nursing professor at La Salle), was given little hope for a recovery. He survived, slowly recovered, and eventually came to La Salle, where he participated on the track and field team and has done well academically.

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