Students Shine at the 2019 Undergraduate Awards Ceremony

Triple award winner Marielle C. Gardner '19 with Provost Margaret Kasimatis.On Wednesday, May 8, members of the undergraduate class of 2019 were recognized for their achievements across the various academic disciplines and organizations offered at Saint Mary’s. Students were bestowed with awards celebrating their excellence in the classroom as well as on the field and in the community—both on- and off-campus. A bountiful reception kicked off the event as staff, faculty, administrators, Christian Brothers, family, and friends of the awardees filled the festive Soda Center to enjoy an array of appetizing hors d’oeuvres before the ceremony commenced.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Kasimatis provided a warm welcome, and President James Donahue opened the ceremony, saying that we were all present to “celebrate [the awardees’] success as scholars and athletes, as leaders and visionaries.” Donahue thanked the faculty, staff, and Christian Brothers present for their role in guiding the class of 2019 during their time at Saint Mary’s. Before closing, Donahue said his wish for the graduating seniors was to understand that “God is calling each and every one of us in a new way.”

The award ceremony was a celebration of past accomplishments as well as a look toward the future—the impact the graduates will have on the world, as evidenced by the words spoken by the academic deans, staff, and administrators who detailed the graduates’ successes when presenting them with awards.

Marielle C. Gardner '19 has received three major awards for her achievements at Saint Mary's. Dean of the School of Liberal Arts (SOLA) Sheila Hassell Hughes presented Gardner with the De La Salle Award, the College's top honor for a graduating senior with the highest record in scholarship and academic excellence. Gardner also received the James L. Hagerty Award for her record of outstanding academic achievement in Philosophy. The award was named in honor of the 1919 alum and professor of philosophy at Saint Mary’s for 37 years. In addition, Gardner was named the recipient of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Award for her work in the Integral Program. She will continue her education in the mathematics department at Iowa State University, where she aims to create opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students to enter the mathematics field in the future.

School of Science (SOS) Dean Roy Wensley presented Elisa Joy Capulong Rapadas ’19 with two major undergraduate awards this year: the Frederick Whelan Award for her major in Psychology and the Arthur S. Campbell School of Science Award for her outstanding achievements in science. Following graduation, Rapadas will pursue a PhD in social psychology at Northwestern University. “A huge part of my career at Saint Mary’s has been being able to integrate social justice and research,” said Rapadas. At Northwestern, she’ll be able to continue this passion under the mentorship of Dr. Sylvia Perry, whose lab focuses on research in prejudice and stereotyping. Rapadas’ graduate education will continue the Lasallian values emphasized at Saint Mary’s, including the importance of inclusive community.

Dean of the School of Economics & Business Administration (SEBA) Professor Yung Jae Lee presented this year’s Brother U. Jerome Griffin, FSC, Award to Marie Gabrielle Domingo Bernabe ’19. “For the last four years, Saint Mary’s and SEBA have given me countless opportunities to learn, lead, and mentor others,” said Bernabe. “I am honored and humbled by the recognition from the College.” She will graduate with a degree in Business Administration and a double concentration in Business Analytics and Finance. During her time at the College, Bernabe served as a peer mentor for SEBA and vice president of the SEBA Undergraduate Student Advisory Board.

Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE) Professor Joan Peterson, the College’s 2019 Professor of the Year, congratulated graduates on their successes and encouraged each of them to “follow your bliss.”

Proud, beaming parents stood out among the audience, as many scurried toward the stage to snap a photo of their soon-to-be graduate. The event was a beautiful celebration of academic excellence, service, and athletic achievement. We feel confident that this year’s graduates will take the tools gained from their Lasallian liberal arts education at Saint Mary’s into the world to change it for the better.

For a list of all awardees, please click here.