Female Graduate student standing in front of Kleinhan's reflecting pool, mother is holding the daughters graduation placard up.

Record number of graduates receive degrees

It was a milestone year for Daemen College as it marked the college’s largest graduating class in its 72-year history.

Families and friends joined together on May 18 to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2019 at the 68th annual commencement, which included the first graduating class in applied behavior analysis, a master’slevel program launched by the college in 2017.

In addressing the graduates, Daemen President Gary Olson said, “While you have demonstrated mastery of your academic area of study, perhaps the most important ability you have acquired is a habit of mind – the ability to think critically and analytically about the world. Now more than ever, educated citizens are being challenged to reaffirm, champion, and put to good use the values and skills we all share as educated citizens. Our collective future depends on a populace of critical thinkers. It depends, in part, on you.”

During the undergraduate ceremony, Jessica Schrader, who earned a bachelor’s degree in natural science, was presented the Charles L. Lumsden Award, the college’s most prestigious academic honor given to the student with the highest GPA throughout his or her undergraduate years.

Other top 2019 undergraduate award recipients were recognized at Daemen’s Excellence Awards Ceremony held commencement weekend:

  • Glenda Artiga – Alumni Senior Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the larger community. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
  • Rachel Roberson – Mary Angela Canavan Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has made significant contributions to the betterment of student life at the college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health promotion.
  • Gabrielle Sinnott – President’s Award, which recognizes an undergraduate student who has enhanced the Daemen community through a record of extraordinary accomplishment in such areas as scholarship, student life, and community life. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science.

Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk, owner and chairman of DeRoyal Industries, Inc., emphasized in his undergraduate commencement speech the importance of embracing opportunities to achieve success.

“Going forward, be willing to take chances, get out of the box, and be adventurous,” said DeBusk, who shared several pivotal moments on his road to success. “As you move ahead in life, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. You have one life and I urge you to enjoy it to the fullest.”

Graduate commencement speaker Catherine M. Campbell ’84, CEO of Envolve Maryland, an affiliate of Centene Corporation, encouraged graduates to strive for their fullest potential.

“Wherever your career and life takes you, embark on this journey with all your heart. This is your time to shine, to make a difference, to challenge yourself, to grow as a leader, and to become the best person and professional that you can be,” said Campbell. “Graduates, make your mark in this world. We need you to push yourself—sometimes way out of your comfort zone—to find your full and true potential.”

As part of the commencement ceremonies, keynote speakers DeBusk and Campbell each received an honorary doctorate of humane letters.