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Loyola University Maryland congratulates Class of 2014

| By Nick Alexopulos
2014 Loyola University Maryland Commencement
International business major Ixchel Ochoa (center) celebrates on stage at the Baltimore Arena after her name is announced.

More than 1,200 students officially became the Class of 2014 at Loyola University Maryland’s 162nd Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 17, at the Baltimore Arena in downtown Baltimore.

All told, 864 undergraduates and 339 graduates received diplomas during the ceremony. Kasey Seymour, who received a B.B.A. in International Business, delivered the student address and encouraged her classmates to embrace the challenges that come with accomplishing something exceptional. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 4, was told by doctors that she wasn’t likely to live to 21, and now is a leading voice in the national effort to raise awareness about the disease and ultimately find a cure.

“Our goals will be as diverse as our visions, but make no mistake: Loyola has given us the tools. It’s now up to you and me to use them to their fullest potential,” said Seymour. “It is the determination of each of us that will distinguish Loyola grads from everyone else: the drive to not accept that which we know is wrong, unsatisfactory, or anything less than our best.”

The Class of 2014 is the first to apply to, be admitted to, matriculate into, and spend four years studying at Loyola University Maryland, which changed its designation from Loyola College in Maryland in fall 2009. Collectively, the undergraduates in this class exemplify the ideals of Loyola’s Jesuit mission by excelling in and out of the classroom and devoting time, energy, and imagination to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate. Many of these students have chosen careers focused on service; 31 are enrolled in full-time post-college service programs and 26 will move to Thailand to teach English.

Numerous individual accolades and awards have already defined the determination of this class. Most recently, chemistry major Christian Lewis won a Fulbright to study atmospheric gases that impact global climate. In 2013, Kevin Seltzer, a physics and mathematics double major, received a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for excellence in the sciences, and computer science major David Christo won scholarships from Google and NASA in 2012. Flora Zambakari and Kevin Molyneux each won a Gilman Scholarship to fund study abroad experiences last year. Vanessa Gailius and Nahal Sadegh were awarded William Jefferson Clinton Scholarships to study in Dubai.

This class is accomplished in athletics as well. Dylon Cormier, who played guard on the men’s basketball team, is considered one of the top players in program history. He will graduate as the seventh all-time leading scorer with 1,659 points. Midfielder Marlee Paton is the first Loyola women's lacrosse player to post 100 goals, 75 assists, 200 points, and 100 ground balls in her career; she led the Greyhounds to four straight NCAA tournaments. Men’s lacrosse defenseman and co-captain Joe Fletcher was named 2014 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and Patriot League Men's Lacrosse Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and he was also nominated for the Tewaaraton Award, which recognizes the top player in college lacrosse. Fletcher and 10 of his senior teammates helped the Greyhounds win the 2012 NCAA lacrosse national championship.

Now students in this decorated class are ready for the next chapter of their lives.

“Maybe we do not know exactly what job we want to end up in or where we will be in five years, but Loyola has instilled in us the values to push ourselves to find where we are meant to be,” said Kim Porfido, senior class president. “It has prepared us to channel our faith in the face of the unknown, to always have a thirst for knowledge, to discern about what brings us joy, to search for where our gifts and talents are needed in the world, and to value the journey along the way.”

In his commencement address, speaker Mark K. Shriver, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and senior advisor to the CEO of Save the Children, urged the new graduates to accept the invitation from God to make God the central part of their being.

"If you do, you’re going to find joy," Shriver said. "No, you won’t be happy every minute of every day, and such faith won’t necessarily make you rich and famous. But it will bring you joy."

Shriver went on to explain that his late father, R. Sargent Shriver, embraced faith and joy every day of his life, evident in the instrumental role he played in the creation of the Peace Corps, the Job Corps, and Head Start. Shriver asked the graduating class to serve those in need through similar acts of hope and love.

Loyola honored Shriver with The President’s Medal during the ceremony. At Loyola’s 1994 commencement, Shriver, his parents and siblings were honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Other honorees included the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, a Baltimore neighborhood organization that received Loyola’s Milch Award for its unwavering commitment to the community. Mary Catherine Bunting, Mount Saint Agnes College ’64, received the John Henry Newman Medal for her lifelong advocacy for global peace and justice and her support for Loyola, which includes her 2013 gift of $1.75 million to create a peace and justice studies program. Ed Hanway, ’74, and his wife, Ellen, received honorary degrees for their decades of investments in Loyola through inspirational leadership and financial commitments. Mr. Hanway’s term as chair of Loyola’s Board of Trustees ends this spring.

“As you take the education you’ve received at Loyola and go into the world, remember that this education brings with it a responsibility to improve your community, and our world. As you begin this next chapter, I encourage you to consider not just what is in your best interest, but also what is in the interest of those most in need,” said Loyola President Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J. “Think of the opportunity you have over your lifetime to transform the world into a richer and more beautiful version of the one we know today. By recognizing the potential that lies within each person, you can help realize God’s vision for all of his people.”

As she closed her speech, Seymour reminded her fellow graduates that, as alumni poised to make their mark from coast to coast and in countries all over the world, they can always look to each other for strength.

“Although we leave today as individuals, we will always have a shared experience and an unbreakable bond.”

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