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Georgian Court University Grads Explore Power, Possibility, and Promise

MEDIA NOTE: Still photography from Georgian Court University’s 99th Commencement Ceremonies are available to members of the press. Additional assets, including copies of select speeches, are available at or by e-mail to the contacts above.

Lakewood, N.J., May 24, 2010—Despite the troubling national economy, problems on the warfront, and unsettling finances in New Jersey, it’s important to think positive and “keep moving forward,” Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen told some 370 Georgian Court University graduates as she spoke during the university’s 99th Undergraduate Commencement Exercises at the school’s national historical landmark campus in Lakewood.

“Many of you may have difficulty finding employment. You may have to take a different path than the one you planned,” said the 1982 alumna who is now presiding judge of the Chancery Division, Family Part, of the Superior Court of New Jersey in Monmouth County.

“That unplanned path may, however, lead you to your highest good…to your dream job, or who knows, to the person who may become the love of your life,” she said. “Just know that on balance, the world is a wonderful place. Believe in yourself, and you will make your mark.”

Georgian Court President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., presented Judge Kilgallen with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, nearly 28 years to the day after she crossed the Georgian Court graduation stage to receive a B.A. in History.

Judge Kilgallen, who once served as president of the Student Government Association, offered her remarks following the Class of 2010 undergraduate address from Manasquan resident Brynn Walzer, the university’s current SGA leader.

“I was once told by a very inspirational woman, GCU Provost Evelyn Saul Quinn, that ‘education is freedom. Your education is the only thing in this world that can never be taken away from you.’ I know that education is the freedom to investigate our passions; it is the freedom to pursue our dreams,” said Brynn, who received her degree in social work. “Education is the freedom to change the world.”

‘Knowledge…Brought Us Together’
The undergraduate celebration marked the second consecutive day of encouraging comments heard by GCU students. On Thursday, May 20, the university granted master’s degrees to 224 graduate students, including Monroe resident and holistic health major Barbara Mascialino, who discussed the power of limitless possibilities.

“We may have struggled with the how's and why's, battled the enemies of doubt, fear, and sheer exhaustion, but we knew that the only direction was forward and upward and it was that knowledge, that inner voice, that brought us together into the halls of Georgian Court University,” said Barbara, a former Wall Street worker-turned-personal trainer and certified Reiki practitioner.

“At Georgian Court…we would engage in new conversations, discover new partnerships, and explore new possibilities,” she said. “Life is about exploring limitless possibilities, if only we open up to them.”

Graduates Are Called to Lead, Act on Others’ Behalf
Graduate commencement speaker Kevin M. Ryan, president and CEO of Covenant House International, the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless youngsters, challenged the Class of 2010 to give back by helping others.

“Use your Georgian Court degrees and your thumping, generous hearts to lift up the world, one saved child at a time,” said Mr. Ryan, who was presented with an honorary Doctor of Public Service. “Leave here to build and run better schools; to teach and to reach every child in that classroom, including the quiet kid in the back of the room who never raises her hand, never has a school lunch, whose parents never show up for teacher conferences.”

And no matter their discipline, each graduate has something to offer, he said.

“Set sail from this campus to use your expertise in biology, psychology, and theology to heal bodies, minds, and spirits,” said Mr. Ryan, who added that his grandmother was valedictorian of the Georgian Court Class of 1924, the first to graduate at the school’s historic Lakewood campus. “Be hope. Be icons of God’s love in the world.”

In addition to honoring Mr. Ryan, President Jeffries also presented Barbara Black, D.P.S., with an honorary Doctor of Public Service. Dr. Black, executive director of the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic College and University Consortium, manages a collaboration of nine institutions as well as the development of programs and partnerships that preserve and strengthen the schools’ Catholic identity, broaden and enrich their environments, promote student leadership, and assist in their fiscal stewardship.

Georgian Court also granted Joseph J. Cino, Ph.D., a 30-year veteran of the GCU’s School of Education, associate professor emeritus status. The popular faculty member received a standing ovation from his colleagues and students as he accepted the award on behalf of his children and late wife.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at One Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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