Waynesburg University held its annual Commencement exercises Sunday, May 3, honoring approximately 730 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.
The Most Rev. David A. Zubik, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, delivered the Commencement Address. During the ceremony, the Bishop received a Papal Blessing from Pope Francis as well as an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University.
The special blessing from the Pope, presented to Bishop Zubik by Waynesburg University President Douglas G. Lee and Laura Ellsworth, a University trustee and partner at Jones Day, honored Bishop Zubik on the day that marked the 40th anniversary of his ordination, which was May 3, 1975.
Presented with the blessing was a letter from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, from which Ellsworth read a few lines:
“On Sunday, May 3, you will celebrate your 40th anniversary of priestly ordination as you also give the Commencement Address at Waynesburg University and receive an honorary doctorate. It is a great pleasure for me to offer you fraternal congratulations on this day that renews for all of us the joy of your ordination and at the same time to offer heartfelt best wishes as you receive this distinguished academic recognition.”
During his Commencement Address, Bishop Zubik referenced the University’s motto, Fiat Lux, or “let there be light,” and urged graduates to never forget that as their calling.
He also referenced Pope Francis’s top ten tips for bringing greater joy to one’s life, which include working for peace, respecting the beliefs of others, letting go of negativity, respecting and taking care of nature, investing in youth, keeping the Sabbath holy, developing a healthy sense of leisure, proceeding calmly in life, being giving of yourselves to others and to live and let live.
“To sum up Pope Francis’s top ten tips to bring joy into life – Fiat Lux,” Bishop Zubik said. “My hope and prayer for all of you is that you truly live the motto of this great institution.”
The Bishop also encouraged graduates to strive to live in God’s grace.
“Every day is a point of grace, and grace will be encountered in the people we share that day with. You and I live in a world that challenges us each and every day. The key is to not let those challenges overwhelm us.
The following graduates were named valedictorians:
- John Evan Allison, a biology (pre-med) graduate from Hickory, Pa.
- Isaiah Antoine Cochran, a biology (pre-med) graduate from Akron, Ohio
- Sara Marie Faiad, a psychology graduate from South Fork, Pa.
- Quincy Alexander Hathaway, an environmental science graduate from Jefferson, Pa.
- Carolyn May Highland, a biology (pre-med) graduate from Allentown, Pa.
- Jeremy Scott Hinkle, a forensic accounting graduate from Washington, Pa.
- Gina Marie Robinson, an English (literature) graduate from Lower Burrell, Pa.
Cochran delivered the valedictory on behalf of the valedictorians. Laura A. Smith, who received a Master of Arts degree in clinical mental health counseling, represented the graduate program students.
Prior to the commencement exercises, The Rev. Dr. Peter J. Paris, the Elmer G. Homrighausen professor emeritus of Christian social ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary, delivered the Baccalaureate Address, “On Becoming a Good Person.”
He urged graduates to consider how they can embody the mission of the University in their respective careers and to strive to use their achievements for the good of the world at large.
“The good you achieve for yourself can also be for a greater good – the good of others – the greatest good a human can do,” he said.
Rev. Dr. Paris encouraged graduates to never underestimate their power as young individuals, stating that the young have the energy and vision necessary for constructive social change.
Rev. Dr. Paris was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree for the ways in which he parallels Waynesburg University’s mission of faith, learning and serving.
The University awarded the following degrees to graduates: Doctor of Nursing Practice, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Business Administration, Master of Education, Master of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Management and Leadership, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
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Ashley Wise, Senior Writer/Editor
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