Class of 2015 Poised to Impact the World

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 18, 2015

Against a backdrop of blue skies and Grey Towers Castle, nearly 500 students received baccalaureate degrees at Arcadia’s 2015 Undergraduate Commencement on May 15. The previous evening, approximately 400 graduate students received master’s and doctoral degrees.

Deogratias Niyizonkiza, founder of Village Health Works in the East African country of Burundi, received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities. In his address, he emphasized the importance of strangers’ kindness in his own life and the need to show that compassion to everyone.

“We have an opportunity to serve, to give back, to empower, to teach, to inspire others, and to pursue sustainable acts of kindness and compassion,” said Niyizonkiza. “We have an opportunity to do this for those near to us and for those we call strangers, with whom we have little in common but our shared humanity.”

At the Graduate Commencement, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts recipient Francis G. Vitetta, a trustee emeritus who served as chairman and CEO of the architectural firm VITETTA, reminded the graduates of the responsibility they hold as thinkers, scholars, and practitioners.

“As you move on from Arcadia, whatever your chosen profession, be resilient and be aware of the important responsibility you assume in directing the future of this country,” he said.

In her address to undergraduates, President Nicolette DeVille Christensen emphasized the various factors that have contributed to graduates’ growth and success at Arcadia. Study abroad experiences, student organization involvement, intellectual research, and family support have led the graduates to develop “new ways of thinking,” and “to think critically and independently while adapting to changing realities.”

“You are poised to accomplish whatever you wish and to serve greater humanity,” said President Christensen.

Stephen Doolittle, president of the Class of 2015, presented the Class Gift of new Adirondack chairs and picnic tables to add to “one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.”

In addition to those receiving baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and honorary degrees, Arcadia recognized three students who earned the Raising Expectations for Academic Learning certificate, which offers students with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the same collegiate work as their peers.

Special Awards

  • Aashika Suseendran received the Senior Gold Disc Award, presented annually by the Alumni Association to a student with the highest standards of leadership in activities that enhance the quality of student life and demonstrate a lasting commitment to the welfare of the University.
  • Katherine DiMaria received the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Full-Time Study for the highest academic achievement in at least three years of full-time study at Arcadia, and Janet Quallet received the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Part-Time Study.
  • Dr. Peter Siskind, assistant professor of history and chair of the Historical and Political Studies department, earned the Lloyd M. Abernethy Faculty Outstanding Service Award, presented every two years to a full-time faculty member or professional librarian for service to Arcadia.
  • Chantel Mattiola of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program received the A. Richard Polis Graduate Scholarship Award for full-time students on the Graduate Dean’s Distinguished Honor List, distinguishing herself as “a fantastic example of a 21st century peace and community builder.”