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Villa Maria College Celebrates Grads from 2020 and 2021 in an Outdoor Ceremony; Awards Given to Madelyn Jensen and José Colón

On Saturday, May 22, 2021, Villa Maria College celebrated its 56th Commencement ceremony 

In the name of safety, this year’s event was held outside in front of the Main Building. The College’s first outdoor ceremony since 1986 recognized 119 graduates from the class of 2021 and 84 graduates from the class of 2020. Candidates from both years earned degrees in arts, science, business administration, fine arts, and applied arts. Additionally, 5 students earned certificates for completing the College’s Historic Preservation program.  

Villa Maria College's outdoor graduation ceremony

Villa Maria College celebrated its 56th Commencement ceremony outside in front of the Main Building.

In keeping with the College’s longstanding tradition, awards were given to two outstanding graduates. 

The Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award is given annually by the Student Life Office to a graduate who has distinguished himself or herself in promoting spirit on campus. This year’s Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award was given to José Colón. 

José earned a B.S. in Music Industry while maintaining a 3.2 GPA. He truly embodies the Villa spirit, promoting everything that Villa Maria has to offer. He is well connected with his instructors and all resource offices on campus. Jose has served as an Orientation Leader, Student Ambassador, and is involved in the many events that occur on campus. José is the President of the Music Club and won the Outstanding Music Student Award in 2020. Throughout his time at Villa, he completed an internship at Blackrock Entertainment Production Studios, where he helped produce an entire album. He is also employed at Guitar Center, where he has gained extensive knowledge about instrument repair, lessons and sales. In the future, he hopes to apply this knowledge to continue to grow his own company, The Influence Entertainment Group. In his free time, José enjoys spending time with this family and friends., building race cars, and recording and producing music. He is currently a brown belt in karate and will continue to work towards earning his black belt. 

José Colón addresses the Villa Maria College Community

José Colón, the winner of the 2020 Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award, addresses the Villa Maria College Community during commencement.

The Blessed Mary Angela Student Award is awarded annually at Commencement to the most outstanding graduate of Villa Maria College. Named after the foundress of the Felician Sisters, the award is selected by the President of the college and her 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. This year’s award was given to Madelyn Jensen. 

Jensen has completed a Business BBA, with highest honors, earning an impressive 4.0 GPA. Her coursework included a minor in marketing and a concentration in digital media marketing. As part of her programs, she became certified in Hubspot and Google Analytics. Madelyn is an exemplary student-athlete and a leader on campus, in and out of classroom. Besides captaining the College’s bowling team for two years, she has served as an Orientation Leader, Student Ambassador, and is a member of the Leadership Development Program. This year, Madelyn was named that outstanding student in business in 2021 and is a member of the national scholastic honor society Delta Epsilon Sigma. Madelyn has participated in work-study, both at the front desk for admissions and as an administrative assistant. She gained internship experience with the YMCA’s marketing department and ASTPS, a local tax firm. She also completed a full-year internship with the sales team at Lactalis. Outside of Villa, Madelyn serves the community as a volunteer firefighter. 

Jensen poses with Villa's president, Dr. Giordano

2021 Blessed Mary Angela Student Award Winner Madelyn Jensen poses with the College’s President, Dr. Giordano

 Nyles Moore, 2020 winner of the Blessed Mary Angela Award, and Ashton Barrie, 2020 winner of the Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award, were present to be honored and receive their awards in person. To learn more about Nyles’ an Ashton’s contributions to the Villa Maria College community, click here 



Nyles Moore Speaking at Commencement

Nyles Moore, winner of the 2020 Blessed Mary Angela Student Award, speaks during the 2021 commencement ceremony.

Ashton Barrie poses with his award and Dr. Giordano

Ashton Barrie, winner of the 2020 Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award, poses with Dr. Giordano after accepting his award.

Additionally, the Founders Award was given to Gerard Place. David Zapfel, President and CEO of Gerard Place, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Zapfel addressed the classes of 2021 and 2020, offering the graduates the advice to work hard, stay humble, and help others as they advance throughout life. To learn more about Gerard Place and Mr. Zapfelclick here 

 Zapfel accepting the Founders Award

Mr. David Zapfel accepts the 2021 Founders Award from the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Timothy Ryder.

To watch Commencement 2021 in its entirety, click here 

To view the photos from the ceremony, click here 

Congratulations to the Classes of 2021 and 2020!