SMWC Commencement 2013

May 4th, 2013 | SMWC

Elizabeth M. Hagerman, Ph.D. receives honorary doctorate.

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The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) 173rd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4, 2013, symbolized the culmination of students’ academic achievement and personal growth. President Dottie King, Ph.D. presented over 100 students from 23 states with associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Vice President for Rose-Hulman Ventures, Elizabeth M. Hagerman, Ph.D., delivered the address. Rose-Hulman Ventures brings together students with technology-based companies to design prototypes, refine the design of existing products, and expand current engineering capabilities. Hagerman received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from SMWC.

“Graduation is a momentous event for all involved,” explained Hagerman. “The graduates are exhilarated by a strong sense of pride and accomplishment for the work they’ve done – and for those of us looking back on graduation, we feel excitement knowing that this is only the beginning of a long journey of learning and success.”

The graduates inspired Hagerman. “They light a fire within all of us to improve ourselves as we encounter new experiences.  I’ve learned that there is so much to be gained from asking for opportunity, pushing yourself towards the heat of a challenging situation, and listening with purpose and focus when faced with gaps in understanding.”

Sara Hollinshead and husband celebrate commencement.

Graduation also means a time of new beginnings.

“So many opportunities are available to me now,” said Sara Hollinshead from Carlisle, Ind. “I received a top-notch education online. With four children I couldn’t have earned my degree any other way.” 

Stephanie Runyon, of Noblesville, Ind., said today is bittersweet. “I feel so privileged to be a graduate of The Woods. Whenever I would have a tough day, I would picture commencement in my mind. That thought motivated me to keep going.”

During the ceremony, the College presented Virginia (Ginger) Smith, a 1989 graduate, with the Distinguished Alumnae Award.  The Award is the highest honor the College bestows upon a graduate in recognition of her noteworthy achievements and valuable professional and personal contributions.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Indiana State University. She volunteered and served as a substitute teacher in the Vigo County School Corporation. Later, she became interested in business when she began her career at Princeton Mining Company. Smith soon realized how valuable a business education could be and enrolled in the Women’s External Degree program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She graduated with her second bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1989.

Virginia Smith '89 receives Distinguished Alumnae Award.

She credits her success to her family and her Catholic roots. This foundation shaped her business intellect and sense of responsibility to her community into a strong, confident woman.

As a vital part of the Terre Haute community, she has served on the boards of many community organizations including the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra and the Swope Art Museum. She helped establish the Woods Day Care, and served on its board of directors and as president. She also volunteers at the St. Patrick Parish soup kitchen.

An avid supporter of the College, she has given of her time and resources in many ways. Smith  served on the board of trustees from 1993-1997 and again from 2001-2010. She was a member of various committees and held leadership positions including board secretary and board vice chair. Her generous contributions have funded scholarships and strengthened the educational and extracurricular opportunities at The Woods.

She is the mother of two sons, Jeffery and Henry, and a daughter, Lesley Bell. She also has ten grandchildren.

Smith has demonstrated excellence in her career and given back to her community, embodying the principles we hold dear. She is a significant part of the College and her leadership means so much to us all. She has made a difference in the lives of our students and we appreciate her loyalty to and love for The Woods.

Commencement Award Winners

Maud Helm Rockwell Medals for Academic Excellence

Leonora Dalipi (campus)  – Pristina Kosovo

Alta Welker (WOL) –  Paris, Illinois

Alumnae Leadership Medals

Cathleen Flynn – Mitchell, South Dakota

Stephanie Miller – Terre Haute, Indiana

St. Catherine Medals

Casandra Barnett (campus) –  Brazil, Indiana

Cynthia McCullough (WOL) –   Butlerville, Indiana

Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship

Robert Jean, Ph.D., associate professor of ecology

Faculty Excellence Award for Service

Tracy Richardson, professor of music


Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching

Ron Maurey, instructor of music

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