Villanova University College of Professional Studies (CPS) graduates celebrated the culmination of years, and in some cases many years, of commitment and hard work when they walked across the stage at Villanova’s 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 15.
This year, 18 members of the CPS Class of 2019 graduated with degrees including a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts. CPS students exhibit remarkable tenacity and drive; they come to the college to either begin or complete their degrees after spending years in the workforce, balancing professional and family commitments with academically rigorous programs.
Ron Tedesco, ’19 CPS embodies that mindset and grit. Tedesco, the College’s 2019 Commencement speaker, earned a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Information Systems over an eight-year journey at CPS, which culminated with him graduating summa cum laude.
“Each of us here have our own similar story,” Tedesco said at the College Convocation ceremony. “It all started with a trigger, an unwavering desire that helped us begin our journey, and kept us going when times were tough. Every one of us had obstacles along the way, but we did not let anything prevent us from achieving our goal.”
Maura McCormick ’19 CPS served as the CPS 2019 class representative at the University’s Commencement ceremony, receiving the hood and diploma on behalf of the college. McCormick returned to Villanova in 2017 to finish her undergraduate degree in English and was inspired by the University’s tradition of service to actively engage in her own community and school district. McCormick, who will next pursue a master’s degree in school counseling, was honored along with her CPS classmates when they were called on stage for a moment of special recognition by Villanova University President the Rev. Peter Donohue, OSA, PhD.
“I said to Maura when she came up: did you ever think that this was going to happen? And her response to me was ‘No, I never did,’” Father Donohue said. “To these people, who raised families, worked full time, did all kinds of things and still are getting a degree from Villanova University, congratulations for everything you’ve done.”
Fifteen 2019 CPS graduates earned Honors. Graduating summa cum laude were Kathleen Clyde, Lacy Loar-Gruenler and Ronald Tedesco, Jr. Graduating magna cum laude were Melissa Bradford, Rhonda Davison, Nicholas Gaynor, William Gordy and Linda Satterthwaite. Graduating cum laude were Sandrino Crescenzo, Carolina Chiriboga, Caroline Gross, Daniel Huffman-Frasco, Eric Leak, Joanne Morris and Harry Scheuerle.
Enrolling in college courses as an adult, with a hectic schedule and various outside responsibilities and pressures to manage, could be an overwhelming and intimidating experience; however, students at CPS are embraced by the supportive community of the College. Students rally each other and faculty understand the unique pressures faced by CPS students versus the traditional undergraduate.
According to Tedesco, that spirit of community is a hallmark of the CPS student experience.
“We dug deep, time and time again, finding motivation even when we thought we had nothing left to give. We did whatever it took to keep going. We are driven, we are resilient, and we are strong. We are the product of this incredible learning experience… we are well versed, well rounded, and well prepared.”
CPS Annual Awards Ceremony
Prior to Commencement, the College celebrated its fourth annual Awards Ceremony on May 9 at The Inn at Villanova. This event brings together CPS students, their families, faculty and staff, as well as administrators and faculty from across the University to celebrate the academic achievements of the 2018-2019 year.
This year, six CPS students were inducted into Alpha Sigma Lambda, an honor society established in 1947 at the University of Cincinnati, which celebrates the scholarship and leadership of adult students. Villanova's College of Professional Studies has been a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda since 1958, and its chapter has a present enrollment of more than 250 faculty and alumni. To be eligible for induction, students must have completed at least 24 credits from Villanova with a minimum GPA of 3.2 and also be in the top 20% of all CPS students. This year’s inductees were Jeannine Ahern, Anna Burry, Nick Langan, Robert Lyons, Alicia Peterson and Gregory Young. Also inducted as an Honorary Member was Dr. Adele Lindenmeyr, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Two students from the College’s Paralegal program received Distinguished Student Awards for demonstrating academic excellence and for embodying the Augustinian values of Veritas, Unitas and Caritas. These students are Victoria Wu and Lauren Shea.
The College also awarded its annual “Grit Award,” which celebrates a student who has demonstrated exceptional passion, courage, persistence, commitment, and strength of character during their academic studies at Villanova. This year’s recipient was Wanda Edmonson.
Finally, the College named its annual Steve Merritt Award winner, which celebrates dedicated and humble service to Villanova. This award is named after one of the most beloved and influential administrators at Villanova who passed away a few years ago. The 2019 winner is Kristy Irwin, the Assistant Vice Provost for Online Programs at Villanova. In addition to her work in the Provost’s Office, for the last 15 months Irwin served as Interim Assistant Dean in the College of Professional Studies. Prior to that, she managed many special projects for CPS over the years, and in all of these capacities, worked tirelessly on behalf of its students, staff and faculty.
The evening concluded with inspiring remarks from Christine Palus, PhD, Dean of the College of Professional Studies.
“When you decided to join the Villanova community, you made the deliberate choice to seek a new opportunity, to enrich your life and to learn, grow and to achieve,” Palus said addressing the students. “It is thrilling to be here this evening to see those goals come to fruition; your work has paid off! You worked incredibly hard to get to this moment, and we are so proud of you! Savor this moment – especially considering the many sacrifices you made to get here. Know you are truly an inspiration to us, and you have my deep admiration.”