2015 Commencement

Mount Mercy celebrates students during 2015 commencement 

Mount Mercy University’s two highest awards for graduates were presented during the 2015 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 17, at the U.S. Cellular Center. Tyler Keith, a psychology major originally from Muscatine, Iowa, received the Mary Catherine McAuley Award. This is the highest honor given to a student who has attended Mount Mercy for four years. Fatmir Kote, a criminal justice major from Albania, received the Mary Frances Warde Award, the highest honor given to a student who transferred to Mount Mercy.

Bethany Rinderknecht, graduating with a Master's in Strategic Leadership, received the prestigious President’s Award during Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 16. The President’s Award is bestowed in recognition of outstanding perseverance and diligence in pursuing goals. The award was unique this year, because it was given to a person who is both a student and employee of the university.

Nearly 530 students graduated from Mount Mercy this spring, with 404 students completing undergraduate studies and 124 students completing graduate studies.

Sister Karen Schneider, Sister of Mercy and assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University Children’s Center, served as the commencement speaker. Katerina Althoff, an English major with minors in criminal justice and creative writing from Cascade, Iowa, was the student speaker.


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Mary Catherine McAuley Award

2014 Mary Catherine McAuley Award awarded to Aaron LacyTyler Keith received the Mary Catherine McAuley Award, which is presented to the graduate who, in addition to a high scholastic ranking of a 3.0 or above, has exemplified to a marked degree cooperation with administration, faculty and students; integrity in his/her personal relationships; and leadership and loyalty in furthering the ideals of Mount Mercy. The award is named for Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland in 1831.

Keith is a leader, motivator and champion both in and out of the classroom. Dr. Dennis Dew, Keith’s advisor, said: “I have known Tyler as a student for four years, but also remember meeting him as a prospective student touring Mount Mercy University. He was then as he is now: a personable, motivated, and conscientious person eager to meet the challenging goals he sets for himself.  He is able to make connections with many different kinds of people in positive ways. In class, he is invariably the cheerleader for others’ successes while maintaining his own academic success. He has excellent leadership qualities because people appreciate being around him and people are engaged by him because of his positive outlook and high energy.”

During his time at Mount Mercy, Keith’s athletic career was impressive. He recently earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors for cross country in the fall of 2014 and previously in track & field in the spring of 2014. He was the Midwest Collegiate Conference Men’s Cross Country champion in 2014 and was an NAIA national qualifier. He won two conference outdoor track & field titles in steeplechase and the 1,500 meter in the spring of 2014.

Mary Frances Warde Award

2014 Mary Frances Warde Award awarded to Keva FawkesFatmir Kote received the Mary Frances Warde Award, the highest honor given to a student who transferred into Mount Mercy and has acquired a minimum of 30 credit hours at the university. The award is conferred upon the graduate who, in addition to a high scholastic rating (3.0 or above), has exemplified to a marked degree cooperation with administration, faculty, and students; integrating in his/her personal relationships; and leadership and loyalty in furthering the ideals of Mount Mercy. The award is named for Mary Frances Warde, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in America in 1843.

“Fatmir is the perfect person for the Mary Frances Warde Award,” said Dr. Chad Loes, Fatmir’s academic advisor and professor of criminal justice. “I went to Fatmir’s homeland of Albania a few months back, and I can tell you he came from humble beginnings. Fatmir has always had a unique ability to build relationships with others—he is remarkably collegial with faculty and students. Many faculty members have commented on Fatmir’s incredible dedication to his studies.”

In addition to his studies, Kote is also an employee of Mount Mercy. He began as an officer in the university’s Public Safety office and stepped up to lead the team when given the opportunity to become interim director.

President’s Award

Bethany Rinderknecht received the President’s Award during Mount Mercy’s Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 16. The President’s Award is given in recognition of outstanding perseverance and diligence in pursuit of goals. The award was unique this year, because it was given to a person who is both a student and employee of the university.

“Many times the multiple roles of employee, student, mom and caregiver lead to difficulty in one of those important roles,” said Mount Mercy University President Laurie Hamen at Saturday’s event. “In the case of our award winner, she has excelled at them all. In her role as director, she helps many students—both graduate and undergraduate—achieve their goals of completing a college education. Her positive attitude, professionalism and genuine compassion for students impress all who know her.”

Rinderknecht is often described an engaged and excellent student who often contributes.

“Bethany Rinderknecht has taken courage, drive, compassion, tenacity and heart to the next level and excelled as a student at Mount Mercy,” Hamen said.

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