Celebrating their Fifty-first Commencement, Villa Maria College recognized the Class of 2015 with a day of exercises that began with a Hooding Ceremony in the Villa Maria Convent Chapel, and closed with a reception on the campus lawn.
Immediately following the ceremony, there was a Liturgy and then a brunch for all attendees. Commencement exercises soon followed in the college’s Auditorium, which saw nearly 100 students receive their degree, and held about 500 people throughout the day.
At the ceremony, Sister Mary Raymond Kasprzak, CSSF Ph.D. was awarded the Founder’s Medal for her exemplary service not only to the college, but the local, national and international communities. During her 21 years of service at Villa, Sister Raymond served in a number of capacities, including Vice President of Student Services, and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Even though her time at Villa is only part of her long and storied history of academic, provincial, and religious order leadership, Sister Raymond’s passion for working with students and higher education professionals, has drawn her back to campus time and time again.
Her tenure at the college was interrupted when she became the Provincial Councilor, Director of Education for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters for six years. In 1988 Sister Raymond accepted the post of Vicar General for the congregation which took her to Rome until 1994. She was then elected Provincial Minister for the province in 1995 and returning to Rome. After five years, she became Minister General for the order in 2000, and served until 2006. Returning to the college for the last time, Sister Raymond became the Consultant for Special Projects, and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the President. She will be retiring at the end of the spring 2015 semester.
Tara Clack ’15 was awarded the Blessed Mary Angela Mission Award, which is given annually at Commencement to the most outstanding graduate of Villa Maria College. The award is selected by the President of the college and her cabinet, based on nominations from faculty and staff. Having demonstrated a remarkable level of achievement, Clack has also exemplified dedication, and leadership in her work and service to students, the community. Volunteering for interdisciplinary projects such as the Fashion Design and Merchandising fashion show, she has also participated in the design and installation for community organizations including the Junior League of Buffalo Decorator’s Show House, among others. She served as President of the Interior Design program student club this past year, and held a number of offices in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) professional group, all while earning a cumulative GPA of 3.91.
The Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award was awarded to Joe Tronolone ’15 for his distinguished work in promoting spirit on campus. A hardworking, engaged, and dedicated student, Tronolone consistently helps classmates and the Villa community with his genuine enthusiasm to serve others. He has served as a student ambassador, orientation leader, and a student assistant in the Career Services Office, as well as volunteering at a number of college events and earning a cumulative GPA of 3.97.
On display for the first time, and presented to the college at Convocation, the Villa Maria College mace was designed and fashioned by renowned artist and Assistant Professor Jesse Walp. The mace is the symbol of the college’s unity and represents the college culture through its values, ideals and history.
Crafted out of black walnut wood, mace staff was turned on a lathe is shaped with three rings representing the three ideals of the college: Truth, Charity, and Unity. Carved by hand, the head globe holds the Villa Maria College seal. The seal is hand etched in black giving it depth and weight. There are five finials on globe section made by a local Buffalo machinist, representing the five core values. The finials are connected by a chain, illustrating the historic path the sisters took from Poland to Buffalo. In order to reflect the Felician Sisters’ humility, all the metal on the mace is polished stainless steel.
Throughout the weekend, students, faculty and staff took photos tagged with #atVilla and #classof2015 which were then collected into the story below. More photos will be added over the next few days, and the full run of photos from the event will be available to view by the end of the month.
Congratulations to all of our award winners and graduates!