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Commencement Speakers Named as Villa Maria College Prepares to Graduate its Largest Class in Over a Decade

On Sunday, May 19, 2019 Villa Maria College will graduate 115 students; its largest class in recent history. A total of 115 students will receive degrees in animation, business, graphic design, interior design, music and more.

As part of the ceremony, two student awards will be presented. After accepting their awards, the winners will individually address the Board of Trustees, President Giordano and his cabinet, faculty and staff, the graduating class, alumni, parents and other members of the Villa community.

Molly Sheehan, who will receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, was named the winner of the Blessed Mary Angela Mission Award for Students. Named after the foundress of the Felician Sisters, the Blessed Mary Angela Mission Award for Students is awarded annually at Commencement to the most outstanding graduate of Villa Maria College. The award is selected by the president of the College and his cabinet, based on nominations from faculty and staff. Recipients embody the mission and values of Villa Maria College, demonstrated through outstanding achievement in academics, leadership, and service to both the College and local community.

Alexandra Snow, who will receive a Bachelor of Science in Digital Media and Communication, was named the winner of The Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award. The Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award is given annually by the Office of Student Life to a graduate who has distinguished themselves in promoting spirit on campus.

In addition to the two student speakers, Villa Maria welcomes Sister Marcella Marie Garus, CSSF, who is set to accept this year’s Founder’s Award.

The Founder’s Award is given to a person or persons who have made an outstanding contribution to society and to Villa Maria College; Sister Marcella served the College for 50 years before retiring in 2018. 

In 1968, Sister Marcella Marie Garus, CSSF received a request from her provincial minister to serve as the business administrator at Villa Maria College. Ten years later she was appointed the third president of the College by the Board of Trustees. During her 40-year stint at Villa’s head, Sister Marcella committed herself to bettering the lives of individuals through education and has remained steadfastly dedicated in her pursuit to help students from all backgrounds achieve a college education. A strong, strategic planner she has led the College to meet several significant milestones, including its transition from a two-year school to a baccalaureate granting institution, re-accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and expanding study abroad opportunities. In addition, President Garus played a pivotal role in updating the College’s infrastructure and providing students with off-campus housing options.

As one of the longest-serving presidents in the area, and in all of higher education in America today, Sister Marcella has proven herself to be an incredibly hard-working leader who has personally devoted herself to Villa Maria College and its mission for 5 decades.