During the ceremony, Mount Mercy President Christopher Blake, Ph.D., awarded Mount Mercy's two highest honors for graduates. Benjamin Wood, a double major in communications studies and public relations of Cascade, Iowa, was the recipient of the Mary Catherine McAuley Award. This award recognizes an outstanding graduate who completed all four years of their undergraduate education at Mount Mercy. Vladimir Vukovic, a management major from Ruma, Serbia, was the recipient of the Mary Frances Warde Award, the highest honor for a graduating student who transferred to Mount Mercy.
Blake also recognized retiring faculty members Nancy Brauhn, Ph.D., and Joseph Givvin, Ph.D., during the ceremony. Brauhn was professor of nursing at Mount Mercy. Givvin served as professor of philosophy and chair for the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Campus Ministry. Both faculty members were awarded the prestigious title of faculty emeritus upon their retirement.
Sister Jean Evans, D.Th., of the West Midwest community of the Sisters of Mercy served as the commencement speaker. Christopher Reed '13, from Marion, Iowa, was selected as the student speaker.
During her address, Sr. Evans spoke of friendship, respect for others, and sharing the journey of life with other people. "If you want to go fast, go alone," Sr. Evans said. "If you want to go far, go together."
Holding dual citizenship in the United States and South Africa, Sr. Evans has given much of her time in South Africa. For 12 years, she worked as the principal at the Mmakau Adult Center, a vocational training center for marginalized youth and unemployed adults in Ga-Rankuwa. She also spent 28 years teaching in schools run by the Sisters of Mercy and has lectured at St. John Vianney Seminary and St. Augustine College, both in South Africa.
Upon conclusion of the ceremony, President Blake reminded graduates that Mount Mercy is celebrating its 85th anniversary and the graduating class was leading the way for Mount Mercy over the next 85 years.
"We hope the lessons you have learned will help you make a difference," Blake said. "You have touched the lives of many people while you have been here. We are better for having known you. Grow in your lives through your faith and courage."