2012 Commencement

Mount Mercy honors student during 2012 commencement exercises

Mount Mercy University’s two highest awards for graduates were presented during the 2012 commencement ceremony on May 20 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Daniel Morgan, an English and criminal justice major from Marion, Iowa, received the Mary Catherine McAuley Award, the highest honor given to a student who has attended Mount Mercy for four years. Ryan Pleggenkuhle, a journalism major from Cedar Rapids, received the Mary Frances Warde Award, the highest honor given to a student who transferred to Mount Mercy.  

Cynthia Petersen, a journalism major from Cedar Rapids, received the prestigious President’s Award during the Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 19. The President’s award is bestowed upon a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding perseverance and diligence in pursuing his or her goals.

More than 450 students participated during Commencement this year, including approximately 80 graduate candidates from Mount Mercy’s four graduate programs, Master of Art in Marriage and Family Therapy Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Art in Education and Master of Business Administration.

Mary Schulte LoVerde ’75, medical researcher, author and motivational speaker, delivered the keynote address during the commencement ceremony. Adam Kaefring, a marketing and management major from Solon, Iowa, served as the student speaker.

Mary Catherine McAuley Award

Daniel Morgan received the Mary Catharine McAuley Award, which is presented to the graduate who, in addition to a high scholastic ranking of 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 1831.

Morgan served as a workstudy and Student Ambassador for Mount Mercy’s Admission’s Office all four years of his college career. He also served as an Orientation Leader for two years, and has been active with the Student Government Association (SGA), having served as the Parliamentarian/Historian. He participated in numerous clubs, including Circle K (serving as vice president), the  Criminal Justice Club, Honors Club Association and the Emerging Leaders Program.  

Morgan volunteered in a variety of capacities during his time at Mount Mercy, including during the 2008 flood and annual events such as Project America and Spring Outreach. He also donated time for HACAP Food Reservoir, and at local high schools where he shared college insights with juniors and seniors. He also served on the Academic Integrity Committee. 

Morgan was recognized with the Mary Catharine McAuley Award and the Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Award during the Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 19. During his time at Mount Mercy he was nominated for Student of the Year, recognized for his service to the SGA, and selected to present at the legislature in Des Moines. In academics, he also collaborated with Assistant Professor of English Dr. Chris DeVault on a paper that was presented during Mount Mercy’s Scholarship Festival. He graduated with Honors distinction at commencement. 

Morgan’s current plans are to join the Cedar Rapids Police Department to help make an impact on the Department and the City of Cedar Rapids as a whole. He also plans to continue to volunteer with various organizations and one day hopes to travel abroad. Morgan would like to express special gratitude to Professor of English Dr. Jim Grove for being his faculty adviser and friend through the years, as well as all the other people at Mount Mercy that made his four years so special.

Mary Frances Warde Award

Ryan Pleggenkuhle received the Mary Frances Warde Award, the highest honor given a student who has 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; integrity 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.

At Mount Mercy, Pleggenkuhle served as the managing editor and then editor in chief for the Mount Mercy Times student newspaper, where some of his favorite coverage including documenting service projects and volunteer endeavors of students and showcasing it to the campus community. He also participated in a wide variety of intramural sporting events.

He received the 2012 Outstanding Student Journalist Award during the Honors Convocation on Saturday, May 19. At the 2012 Iowa College Media Association he received an honorable mention for Best Opinion Writing, and in 2011 he was awarded third place for Best Headline Writing. During his academic career at Kirkwood Community College he received the 2010 Most Active Intramural Participant Award, where he also served as the editor in Chief of the Kirkwood Communique.

Pleggenkuhle aspires to become a successful communicator in the professional world. Whether as a newspaper journalist, a technical writer or a creative writer, he will strive to be an effective written communicator for the benefit of the reader.

President’s Award

Cynthia Petersen received the President’s Award during Mount Mercy’s Honors Convocation on May 19. The President’s Award is given to a graduating senior who has demonstrated outstanding perseverance and diligence in pursuing his or her goals.

At Mount Mercy, Petersen served as the news editor, editor in chief and then web editor of the Mount Mercy Times, where a large part of her coverage included volunteer activities and community partnerships. She also served on the Student Publication committee.

During her role with the Times she was instrumental in developing a web presence for the newspaper, and won several writing awards through the Iowa College Media Association. She was listed numerous times on the Dean’s List, and was awarded the Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities and nominated for the Sisters of Mercy Award.

Petersen is the owner of Meis Communications, LLC., and publishes a weekly community newspaper in Hiawatha, Iowa, the Hiawatha Advocate. Her first issue came out February 29, 2012. She will continue to spearhead her weekly newspaper and will perhaps write a book someday.